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Ut jToiry rk<m!Y by 

OF ipiMa 



? 1 






3 1924 050 044 324 












Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

The Lily of Life 

9he Bily of Bife 







ISDCtliCdt^d to my daughter 
Elisahetha^ because we love 
the same beauties and under- 
stand the same dreams 


The Lily of Life . 


The Twin Princesses 



The Forest Pool 


The Beautiful Couple . 


The Bog .... 


The Wise Woman . 


The Sick Prince 


The Little Brown Bird 


The Frozen Lake . 


The Steps 


The Woodcutters . 


The Stag . . . . 


Beasts of Prey 


The Door 


The Tombs . . . . 


The Return 


The Recovery . . . , 


Corona . . . . . 




A YOUNG mother, who is a true artist, relating 
a fairy tale, is one of the greatest joys in this 

The first impression of this most delightful 
story is the feeling for colour and decoration, 
then the love of flowers and nature in general, 
and then enough experience to show Lifes 
tragic side as in a looking-glass that is very pure 
and bright. The story becomes more and more 
touching, the Sacuntala or Psyche it represents 
more and more interesting and lovable. 

The great incentive to every sacrifice. Love, 
is represented in all its strength and purity. 
The whole book will be a true enjoyment to 
young and old, the one looking for the sequel 
of the story, the other taken up by the philo- 



sophy and inner meaning. There has been 
more than one Damaianti in this world, more 
than one woman's feet have bled on their road 
to eternity, more than one woman has had to 
sacrifice everything, her heart and soul, and 
youth and beauty, the very hair of her head. 
More than one woman has remained without 
a reward, and has gone down to history as a 
martyr and a saint. Here is one more. 

Her sufferings are so real, her sacrifice is 
so complete — woman's lot in all its tragic 

We read it with deep emotion, and our 
feelings are the stronger, as great beauty per- 
vades it all, and every situation is so entirely 
picturesque. All readers of fairy lore will find 
it true and beautiful. Fairyland is our last 
refuge, when the world is a battle-field and 
religion gone. Then fairyland steps in, and 
everything becomes alive again — love and piety 
and beauty and ideals. God has blessed fairy- 


land and given it to the little ones, to keep 
their dear hearts pure and bright. Every 
mother ought to be inspired by the lovely 
eyes that look into hers with such utter con- 
fidence and with such great expectations. 

Carmen Sylva. 



In a beautiful castle by the sea, a castle all of 
golden tiles, so worked that it looked as if 
it were made of solid, beaten gold — a gold 
which had taken the wonderful tint of autumn 
leaves — there lived a king and queen — a happy 
king and queen. Happy, because their reign 
had been successful, and they were loved by 
their people, and had seen what they had 
undertaken flourish and become a happiness to 
those they ruled, so that it all fell back in 
blessings upon themselves. They were happy, 
too, because they had always loved each other, 
and because they had beautiful twin daughters. 
Certainly, sometimes when it was raining out- 
side, or when they heard sad news, so that 
all seemed a little less bright than usual, they 
would regret they had no son; but, as I tell 

The Lily of Life 

you, this king and queen only thought of it 
on rainy days, when the sun did not manage, 
in spite of its force, to pierce the clouds. 
But that was seldom, because their land was a 
bright one, where flowers grew in abundance, 
and people smiled more often than they cried. 
And then their two daughters were — oh, so 
beautiful ! Exactly alike, except that one had 
golden hair, with great, dreamy, rather sad 
brown eyes, and the other had jet black hair, 
with a blue shine in the light, and her eyes 
as well were blue — great bright blue eyes, 
fringed with feathery black lashes. This one 
was called Mora; she had a sweet voice and 
a happy laugh. Her golden-haired sister was 
called Corona, because, when she was born, her 
hair was so bright that it seemed as if she 
had a crown on her head. But her old nurse 
had shaken her head when she looked into 
her deep, sad, brown eyes, and had wondered 
why already, at that early age, she should have 
that strange look of painful knowledge. She 
had said : " In spite of that golden crown on 

The Lily of Life 

her head, it seems to me as if she carried the 
sadness of the world within her " ; but the others 
laughed, and they seemed to be right, because 
Corona grew up as bright and happy as her 
beautiful sister. They were inseparable friends, 
and nothing was more enchanting than to see 
those two beautiful creatures coming hand in 
hand up the steps of the great marble terraces 
that led down to the sea ; both so indescribably 
beautiful, and as if made out of the same mould, 
so wonderfully alike were they ; the same height, 
the same build, the same features, the same slim, 
tall figures, the only difference being in their 
hair and eyes. Both had voices of such extreme 
sweetness, that when they sat on the seashore 
together, singing, the seagulls would stop in their 
flight to listen, and the impatient litde waves, 
that continually kissed the sand, would try to 
come nearer so as to hear more easily. The 
King and Queen loved them with a passionate 
love, and would sit upon the terrace above, 
leaning over to watch all their movements with 
never-ending interest ; and the two sisters would 


The Lily of Life 

turn their sweet faces up towards them, and in 
their eyes one could see that they were grateful 
for the love of their parents. 

The castle was like a fairy castle, high up, 
overlooking the sea, and terrace upon terrace of 
green marble led down to the silver-sanded shore. 
There was a long flight of golden steps on 
each side, guarded by a line of tall cypresses ; 
and when you looked up along it it seemed like 
Jacob's ladder. But only those who felt very 
nimble cared to climb it daily; others shook 
their heads and smiled, but preferred to think of 
Jacob's angels flying upwards, using their snow- 
white wings, which is, it seems, not at all a tiring 
way of climbing stairs. 

The twin Princesses were as happy as the day 
was long, and although they were already sixteen, 
they still had many studies. A very old philo- 
sopher, with a long grey beard, wrapped in a 
dark-blue, golden-bordered robe, came every day 
with a very big book, and they would sit under 
a huge spreading tree, covered with a wealth of 
orange-red flowers. The book would be laid 


jfie Jwin z/rincesses 

The Lily of Life 

on a large white marble table inlaid with golden 
mosaic, which was cool to the touch ; and with 
their young faces brought close to the old one, 
they would eagerly lean over the huge volume, 
ready to learn all the wisdom the old philosopher 
could teach them. But some things he did not 
know, so some of their questions remained un- 
answered. For instance, he could not tell them 
what colours God used to paint the butterflies, 
nor why Mora had black hair, whilst her sister's 
was golden ; nor could he tell them for certain 
what Heaven was like, and if they would meet 
there all the stern figures of their ancestors, 
looking like the beautiful pictures in the big 
castle gallery; nor was he sure what the wind 
told, nor what the sea complained of, nor what 
the seagulls were always screaming out to each 
other. And yet the Princesses wanted badly to 
know these things, and sometimes the merry- 
eyed Mora would say : " Old man ! old man ! 
We love you very much, and we are impressed 
by your knowledge, but we do think you are not 
quite, quite as learned as we hoped ! " Then 


The Lily of Life 

both would laugh, and the old man would lift 
his head, smile at them, and love their youth 
and the sweetness of spring that was about 

Both sisters loved the sea, and they had a 
golden boat shaped like an eagle, with a sail of 
violet silk, upon which a golden sword with 
a hilt like a cross was woven. The golden 
sword, passed through a circlet of silver, was 
the emblem of their family, and meant that their 
arms were always used for what was holy and 
right. And when they sailed over the sapphire 
blue sea, their golden and raven locks mingling 
in the wind, their sweet voices charming the 
waves, the old sailors used to sit and smile, and 
the hearts of the young ones would beat faster ; 
the sun would look down upon the two girls and 
wonder at their beauty, and the grey and white 
seagulls would circle round their ship, making 
patterns with their wings to attract their attention. 
And in the beautiful evenings, when the sun 
was sinking, turning the sea into a blazing pool 
of blood, they would sit side by side as their 


The Lily of Life 

ship drifted homewards. Corona would work 
at a beautiful embroidery on silver cloth, re- 
presenting golden eagles, holding in their claws 
a bleeding heart ; Mora, always more idle, would 
lean her head against her sister's shoulder and 
make her laugh with all the tales she told. Or 
they would sit silent, hand in hand, watching 
the fire-coloured sky turn into orange and 
yellow, till night crept slowly over all, wrap- 
ping sea and sky in a dark grey shroud. Then 
they would feel how they loved each other, and 
they would tighten the grasp of their hands, for 
fear of any shadow coming between them. 

As is usual with parents, the King and 
Queen, although they adored their children 
above all in the world, were continually think- 
ing of marrying them ; but the two sisters 
would not hear of it, because they shuddered at 
the idea of being separated, even for a day. 

Around the castle were magnificent forests, 
and the two Princesses would ride through 
them together, each followed by her own page. 
The two pages, Doric and Yno, were young 


The Lily of Life 

boys, passionately devoted to their mistresses, 
understanding and feeling their ladies' desires even 
before they expressed them aloud. Mora and 
Corona each possessed a horse the colour of 
her hair ; Mora's was inky black, and Corona's 
was like shining gold ; and they would fly 
along for hours, untiring amidst the glory of 
the woods. The trees grew strong and straight, 
their branches joined overhead like the vaulting 
of a green cathedral, and various flowers grew 
in different parts, always one kind in each 
place, but then in such thick masses, that they 
were like a sea of colour. From afar the blaze 
of colour could be seen, and then the sisters 
would loosen the reins, letting their horses fly 
along till they reached the oasis of colour they 
had seen from afar shining between the trees ; 
sometimes it seemed like a blue sheet of water ; 
but when they reached the spot it was seen to 
be millions and millions of blue irises and 
hyacinths, growing in prodigious masses, and 
smelling, oh, so sweet ! Then, again, in another 
part the forest would seem as though in flames, 


^fie c/^orest zwo/ 

The Lily of Life 

which turned out to be a blazing field of orange 
poppies; and intertwined round the trunks of 
the trees, growing up in the branches and 
falling down again in festoons, were orange- 
coloured roses. In another place it would seem 
to you that you saw snow in the distance, shining 
in a sheet of white, but on reaching the spot 
you would find a carpet of delicate snowdrops. 
Then, again, it might be a field of yellow cow- 
slips and primroses, or a blaze of tiger-lilies, or 
a sweet mass of pink carnations the size of 
roses. It was a blessed country where all those 
flowers bloomed in the same season. 

One day, as the sisters penetrated deep into 
the forest, they came to a shining pool of dark 
water, a sort of deep large hole, that looked as 
if it were bottomless. They were hot from 
their long gallop, so they slid oflF their faithful 
horses, and both stood leaning against them, 
as the thirsty animals stretched their glossy 
necks to reach the cool water. There they 
stood, the dark green forest behind them, and in 
the distance a gleaming stripe of orange poppies, 
c 9 

The Lily of Life 

the golden and black steeds standing quite still, 
and the beautiful forms of the young girls in 
their black and gold dresses with wreaths of red 
roses in their wonderful hair, the whole reflected 
in the clear dark water beneath. Long they 
peered into the depth beneath them; then 
Mora raised her head, and found herself gazing 
into a pair of large grey eyes on the opposite 
bank. For a moment it seemed to her like a 
vision, all had been so still around them, no 
sound had warned them of another presence. 
Then she noticed further, that the eyes were set 
in a beautiful face framed in a golden helmet ; 
and as the green branches parted a wonderful 
figure of a knight stood before them. Mora 
seized Corona's hand, and she too became aware 
of the shining vision ; then all three stood spell- 
bound, gazing at each other, speechless, silent 
with the great emotion clutching at their hearts. 
Suddenly the knight moved and came forward 
round the pool, and bending a knee to the 
ground he bared his head, and his red-brown 
curls shone like burnished copper. He remained 


The Lily of Life 

thus in a position of adoration till Mora moved 
forward, and in a voice trembling with sweet 
shyness addressed him : 

** Noble knight ! Kneel not before us, but 
rise and tell us if there is aught we can do for 
thee. Hast thou come from far? Hast thou 
lamed thy steed ? " 

For a moment he remained silent, overcome 
by so much sweetness. Then he rose and 
stood upright before them, long and straight 
like a golden sun-ray in his glistening armour. 
At last he spoke : 

" Sweet visions of another world ! I have 
indeed come from afar, and I have lost my way 
in this endless forest, lured onwards by the 
beauty of all I saw ; but now I see it was God's 
will, so that I should look upon the most per^ 
feet of all His works, and I would fain kiss the 
hem of your robes, in token of homage ! " 

" Nay," answered Mora again, " tell us thy 
name, and come with us that we may show the 
way out of this forest and take thee to our 
father's castle." 


The Lily of Life 

" My name is Ilario ; I am the son of the old 
king of yonder mountainous country. Surely 
God hath sent me unto you so that my soul 
should rejoice ! " Corona kept her eyes on the 
youth's face, but answered nothing, and it 
seemed to her as if a little bird were fluttering 
beneath her jewelled bodice. Mora called the 
two pages, who were standing a little distance 
away, and told one of them to gallop off and 
tell the King, her father, that they were bringing 
back a royal guest, and that she and her sister 
bade him prepare a reception worthy of him. 
Doric galloped off immediately to fulfil his 
mistress's bidding, whilst Yno, Corona's page, 
held the Princesses' horses and helped them to 
mount. Prince Ilario had left his steed not far 
off, a glorious dark brown, with white face and 
four white feet, whose coat was so silky that 
one could see one's face reflected in its glossy 

They rode on all three together ; Corona 
silent, and Mora's sweet voice rousing echoes 
amongst the great trees, that bent down their 


The Lily of Life 

heads to listen. All three felt a strange happi- 
ness in their hearts, which had never come to 
them before. They had reached a long avenue 
of dark velvety moss, soft as a Persian carpet, 
and smooth as velvet, and so long that the eye 
could not reach the end. There they let their 
steeds gallop side by side, and their hearts 
seemed full of the sunshine around them. Only 
Yno, who galloped at a little distance behind 
them, felt suddenly, as he gazed upon the flying 
forms before him, as if a cold wind had passed 
over his soul, and as if his heart was suddenly 
very lonely. A large eagle, who was soaring 
far overhead, looked down, and remained poised 
a few seconds quite motionless above them ; 
he was very old, and had seen much, and flown 
over many countries, and realized that what he 
saw now was more beautiful than all he had 
known before. He felt sad, too, knowing the 
world with all its burden of sorrow. 

Doric's message had been received with joy, 
and when the sisters arrived with their guest 
the palace doors stood wide open, and dark- 


The Lily of Life 

blue carpets,. with golden crowns woven upon 
them, had been spread along the marble terraces, 
blood-red roses had been strewn all the way, 
and beneath the golden porch stood the King 
and Queen with their crowns upon their heads, 
and kind hands outstretched in welcome. The 
bells were ringing, and from the tower windows 
sweet music was heard, with lovely voices sing- 
ing hymns of welcome. Prince Ilario dis- 
mounted and bent his knee before his royal 
hosts, who greeted him with kind words, and 
led him into the large stone hall, all decorated 
with the old flags that were the honour and 
pride of the country. Before an enormous 
hearth stood a carved table of old oak, laden 
with golden dishes full of exquisite food, and 
wonderful fruit in jasper bowls, and dark purple 
clematis flowers were strewn upon the golden 

That evening there were great rejoicings, 
and the King had given orders that the sea 
along the shore should be illuminated with red 
lights. All the nobles of the country had 


The Lily of Life 

flocked together, so that merry voices and happy 
laughter were heard from one green terrace 
to the other. On the upper one, upon their 
thrones, sat the King and Queen ; but Corona 
and Mora, with their handsome guest between 
them, leaned over the rose-entwined balustrade 
and talked about all that they were eager to 
impart to each other. And sometimes they 
were silent, looking at the beautiful, restless sea 
in the flaming light, but each was ever conscious 
of the other's presence. 

That night both sisters went up to bed, 
holding each other's hands and singing, because 
of the lightness of their hearts. It was long 
before sleep closed their eyes, and when it did 
come it overtook them with a smile upon their 
lips. . . . 

And now followed days of gaiety, when feast 
followed feast ; and the three young people were 
inseparable companions, either sailing on the sea, 
or rambling in the great forest on horseback, or 
wandering over the beautiful terraces, or in the 
gardens, and dancing in the great hall at night. 


The Lily of Life 

Those were days of wonderful joy, days 
when the same love began to blossom in the 
three young hearts, but when no shadow 
as yet darkened their happiness. Ilario was 
so handsome to look upon, that no woman's 
heart remained unmoved at the sight of him. 

The two sisters, who had always lived alone 
with their parents, suddenly discovered a new 
meaning in life, yet they hardly realized that 
the strange new gladness was caused by the 
presence of their wonderful guest. 

To do the Prince honour the King pro- 
claimed a great tournament, to be held at his 
castle. All the noble youths of the country 
were bidden to try their skill, and on a beautiful 
summer morning they all rode forth in a gay 
procession, their steeds decked with trappings 
of many colours. The sun shone down on the 
brave company, flashing upon bright swords 
and lances, and making all the armour blaze 
in the light. Last of all rode the golden-clad 
Ilario on his great brown stallion, his head 
held high, his eyes shining bright with youth 


J he fSeautiful Uoup/e 

The Lily of Life 

and hope, a smile on his lips and a song in his 
heart. All the spectators knew that no other 
knight among the company could compare 
with him. He was braver than them all, 
stronger than them all ; none could keep pace 
with him, none could overcome him. In the 
thickest of the m^lee his golden armour was 
seen everywhere like a moving sun. 

He overthrew all his opponents, with such 
youthful ardour, yet with such courtly grace, 
that not even his rivals felt bitter against him, 
but bowed before his great strength and his 
kingly charm. 

The sisters could not take their eyes off him, 
and each time he won a new victory their 
delight was expressed by cries of applause. 

When the tournament was over, he rode up 
to the low balcony from which they leaned 
down towards him. With shining eyes, and 
a little breathless, he paid them homage. The 
sweat streamed from his noble steed, but Ilario 
sat like a golden statue upon his saddle, showing 
no signs of fatigue. He doffed his helmet, 
D 17 

The Lily of Life 

bowing his head to receive the wreath of roses 
which the sisters had wound for him. His 
brown curls lay matted on his brow, and in 
his eyes, as he gazed up, shone such love, that 
Corona and Mora felt their hearts leap within 

From that day each sister carried about v^dth 
her a secret, one she could not share with the 
other, the first secret that had ever existed 
between them. 

One day, about three weeks after Ilario's 
arrival, the page Yno, looking for his mistress, 
found her beneath a great tree, upon a marble 
seat, her head hidden against its back, and all 
around her streamed her golden hair, hiding 
her face ; and it seemed to him that her 
shoulders were heaving, as if with sobs. Over- 
come with an intolerable anxiety, which his 
faithful heart seemed to feel with an unnatural 
lucidity, he sank upon the ground beside her, 
and like a faithful dog touched her hand with 
his lips. Corona turned with a start, but when 
she saw who it was she gently laid her hand 


The Lily of Life 

upon Yno's head, looked at him long and sadly 
with great, hot tears dropping from her eyes, 
and then, with a smile infinitely more sad than 
her tears, she said in a gentle voice : " Yno I 
ask no questions, but if thy heart hath eyes 
thou wilt understand ! " That evening she 
danced merrily, and when she went to bed 
she kissed her sister more lovingly than ever. 
Mora had a smile of wonderful gladness on her 
lips, and the hand that caressed her sister's hair 
seemed unaware of what it was touching. From 
that day the mild-faced Queen watched her 
daughters' faces with growing anxiety, and 
noticed that, whilst the one always grew 
happier, the other seemed to be continually 
striving to hide some consuming grief. Yet 
they would start for their rides together, and 
when they turned round to wave their hands 
to the royal couple on the balcony, the sun 
still seemed to be pouring down upon 
nothing but gladness. But when the forest was 
reached. Corona used quietly to rein in her 
golden-skinned Jorio, and with a sickening 


The Lily of Life 

pain at her heart realized that the other two 
never even seemed to notice that she was no 
more at their side. Then she would turn her 
horse another way, and when she had reached 
a'^spot where violets grew like a purple carpet, 
she would slide from her saddle and hide her 
face amongst the delicate flowers, crushing 
their sweetness ; and Jorio, with dumb affec- 
tion, would stretch his long, silky neck and 
stir her hair with his snorting nostrils. And 
not far off^ Yno would remain silent behind 
the branches of a great tree, his face hidden 
in his hands. Sometimes, with a beating 
heart, he would come slowly nearer, and 
would lay his face on his mistress's small velvet- 
clad feet, and kiss them softly, and then she 
would say, her voice smothered amongst the 
violets : " Yno ! They never even notice when 
I am no more with them." 

No, they noticed nothing but themselves, 
and one day, before the pool where they had 
met first, Ilario bent his head down from his 
tall horse and met Mora's upturned lips, and 


The Lily of Life 

all the world was forgotten in the wonder of 
that first kiss. All the birds sang around 
them, and a nightingale lifted its sweet voice 
and sang its eternal song of love — that song 
so sweet to happy lovers, so unutterably sad 
to those who stand alone. And the little 
lizards on the ground came out to look at 
the beautiful couple, the butterflies, blue and 
yellow and snow-white, circled around them, 
and a great, brown-eyed gazelle peered timidly 
through the branches ; even a little white hare 
forgot its usual fear, and sat up on its hind- 
legs, craning its neck [to see. Only the old 
eagle who had met them all three the first 
day flew silently away, and hovered long over 
the quiet figure that lay amongst the violets, 
and once again he was saddened by all the 
grief and the joy that the world contained 
side by side. 

That night Ilario asked the King and Queen 
for the hand of their daughter Mora, and 
the King rejoiced and was glad ; but the 
mother's heart was wrung at the thought of 


The Lily of Life 

the one who was to be left behind. The ball 
that evening was more gorgeous than ever, 
and there were great rejoicings. The two 
sisters were clad in snow-white, with a girdle 
of pearls round their waists, and in their hair 
there were wreaths of white roses intertwined 
with pearls that hung down at each side of 
their heads. From their shoulders were sus- 
pended silver mantles, with golden rays worked 
upon them from the top, reaching down to 
the hem, and when they moved in the stately 
dance it seemed as if the sun were following 
them everywhere. Corona smiled with all 
the others, and was the first to bring her sister 
a beautiful gift — a small casket of sky-blue 
enamel encrusted with diamond crosses the 
colour of moon-rays ; within it lay a tiny book, 
the cover of which was carved out of a huge, 
many-coloured opal, edged with tiny diamonds, 
and on its small ivory pages were inscribed in 
gold all the sayings that brought luck to 
those who read them, collected from every 
corner of the world by all the wise men ever 


The Lily of Life 

known. As Corona laid the casket in her 
sister's hand, she kissed her on the eyes, and 
knew that with that kiss she was saying good- 
bye to all the days of their happy youth, of 
their perfect comradeship, and to all that had 
been, and never could be again. And Mora 
put her arms round her, and for one moment 
again all the world seemed to be concentrated 
in her twin sister, and she remembered how 
they had always sworn they could never part, 
and a sharp pain seemed to shoot across all 
her gladness. She, too, seemed suddenly to 
realize that the first page of her life was over; 
but Corona met her look with so brave a smile, 
so sweet, that the pain passed, and Mora 
turned once more in complete happiness to 
her lover. 

When Mora was fast asleep, tired by all 
the rejoicings and festivities. Corona arose from 
her bed, which was close to her sister's, and, 
going to the window, sat down beside it, and 
looked far out over the moonlit sea. There 
she remained far into the night, with dry eyes, 


The Lily of Life 

whilst her mother prayed for her below, and 
in the shade of a cypress-tree, hidden from 
his mistress's gaze, stood Yno, sobbing as if 
his heart would break. 

The time for the wedding drew near, and 
Ilario's father, the old king from the moun- 
tainous country, sent wonderful gifts for his 
future daughter, being too ill to come himself 
and let her know how happy he was that 
his son had chosen so well. The happy day 
was drawing nigh, when suddenly a great 
terror came to them all : Ilario fell ill, and 
in spite of all the court doctors no one could 
discover what ailed him. Day and night he lay 
tossing on his bed in great pain, half conscious 
of all around him, and only finding peace when 
Mora laid her hand upon his burning forehead. 
But as the days passed he grew weaker and 
weaker. Once, when worn out by her long 
watches. Mora had gone to snatch a few minutes' 
sleep, she asked Corona to take her place. With 
a beating heart she took the low seat next his 
couch, straightened the pillow beneath his head, 


The Lily of Life 

drew up the embroidered covering around him, 
then leant down and gazed long at the face she 
loved so well and hardly ever dared to look upon. 
Suddenly Ilario raised himself on one arm and 
opened his eyes wide, wide — oh, such beautiful 
eyes ! — but they saw nothing, for fever was 
raging within his weakened body. Then he 
began uttering wild words of love, all for Mora, 
whom he imagined to be still beside him ; and 
although Corona tried to silence him, it was 
useless ; he became more and more excited, and 
Corona had at last to hold him in her arms to 
quiet him. Still he poured forth all his tender- 
ness, and with a breaking heart she silently 
received the words of love which were meant 
for another. Long she sat after he had fallen 
asleep, his hand clasping her robe, and his 
burning head reposing upon her arm ; and when 
Mora came back she was horrified to see the 
ghastly pallor of her sister's face. 

The wedding-day came nearer and nearer, 
and still Ilario lay sick unto death. All the 
great doctors from all the countries of the world 

E 25 

The Lily of Life 

were called together ; but all their learning 
seemed in vain, all their efforts, all their drugs 
and medicines were of no avail. 

One day a gipsy came to the castle door and 
begged leave to enter. At first they would not 
give her admittance, but the Queen, who was 
looking from the tower window, saw her, and 
had her led up the great staircase to her own 
chamber, and there the gipsy told her, that far 
off, at the other side of the great forest, beyond 
a vast space of boggy waste, lived a wise woman ; 
that she knew all the herbs of the universe, and 
that surely she could tell what would cure the 
sick Prince. The Queen listened attentively, 
and asked if the gipsy would go and fetch the 
wise woman ; but the gipsy shook her head, and 
answered that she could not ; that only a young 
girl, whose soul was as white as God's snow, 
could traverse the dangerous bog that lay 
between the forest and the witch's dwelling. 
At this the Queen felt sad; she called her 
daughters to her, and the gipsy repeated the 
tale to them. Hardly had she ended, when 


The Lily of Life 

Corona sprang to her feet, and declared she 
would go to the witch's dwelling. Her mother 
and sister tried to dissuade her, in terror of all 
the dangers that would threaten her. But 
Corona would listen to no objections, and at 
last, with tears in their eyes, they gave way, 
after Corona had promised to ride Jorio and to 
take Yno with her as a companion. At day- 
break she started. The sky was still red from 
the rising sun, which dazzled the eyes of her 
parents and Mora, who stood on the tower 
balcony to see the last of her. There they 
remained till she was but a small speck against 
the sun, and it seemed to them as if it were 
drawing her onward, to swallow her up in its 
great warmth. Yno followed her close behind, 
happy to be alone with her on her dangerous 
quest. But Corona was silent, and rode on 
without turning her head, and all the beauties 
of the forest seemed not to exist for her; the 
flowers beckoned to her in vain, in their shining 
beauty, in the glory of their many colours. The 
birds sang, but she heard them not ; and all the 


The Lily of Life 

animals who loved her well came out to greet 
her, but she heeded them not; with bent head 
she passed onward, silent, with eyes that seemed 
to notice nothing around her. 

On she rode for many hours ; even the beauty 
of Jorio, who seemed to send out rays of light 
from his shining neck, brought no smile to her 
lips, and Yno felt with a pang that she had 
quite forgotten his presence. She rode all day, 
and till now no hindrance and no difficulty 
barred her way, but towards sunset she came to 
the border of the marshy land she was to cross 
in order to reach the wise woman's dwelHng. 
This bit of land stood in bad repute, and the 
desolation of its aspect froze her heart and 
courage within her. It seemed to consist of a 
greyish slime, in which the skeletons of trees 
rose gaunt and yellow like bleached bones ; some 
had colourless lichens hanging from them, like 
hair on an old woman's corpse. Evening 
shadows were already spreading over the dread 
place, and seemed to move like the ghosts of 
tormented souls that could find no rest. The 


The Lily of Life 

bank that led down was steep, and an evil- 
smelling water oozed out like oil between the 
withered grass. Yno had sprung from his horse, 
and came up to his Princess's side, looking with 
anxious eyes into her face. 

" Sweet mistress, do not go ! " he cried ; " thy 
horse will not carry thee across that horrible 
swamp ; he will sink and drag thee with him." 

Jorio gave a scream of pain and terror. 
Corona slowly turned her head to Yno, and 
gently, like one in a dream, answered : 

" Yno, I must go, and alone ! " 

" No ! no ! " cried Yno ; " that must not 
be. I shall at least die at thy side ! " 

" Yno," repeated Corona, " I must go alone ; 
make not my task more hard ! I am weary, 
and the heart I bear within me weighs me to 
the ground. Yno ! Yno ! Obey and hinder 
me not ! " 

And Yno submitted, and lifted her from 
her horse in his strong arms. She noticed not 
the tender adoration of his touch. Once more 
she turned to him : 


The Lily of Life 

" Yno, wait for me here ; I shall return in 
safety, because it is for another I go, and God 
will bless my quest ! " 

Then she laid her head a moment against 
Jorio's neck, and kissed him between his dilated 
nostrils. " Jorio, you also must await me 
here," she whispered. ** I shall come back I " 
Then she slid down the ugly bank, and Yno 
sank upon his knees, his hands folded in 
prayer, his eyes wide open, following with an 
agony of anxiety her figure, now hardly dis- 
tinguishable in the growing dark. But sud- 
denly he noticed that round her head there 
shone a white light like a halo, and that her 
steps did not sink into the grey slime, and 
he remembered the gipsy's words •: " Only a 
young girl whose soul is as white as God's 
snow can cross the dangerous bog." " Her 
soul is white," murmured Yno to himself — 
" white as God's snow, and God has put a 
saint's halo round her head to guide her 
steps"; and he cried as if his heart would 
break. But Corona's soul, in spite of her 


The Lily of Life 

outward calm, was full of that nameless terror 
which comes to all young creatures when they 
are alone in the dark; and the shadows flitting 
around her froze her blood with awe and fear. 
She would have cried aloud if she had not 
remembered Yno on the bank, who would 
have tried to follow her. Sometimes the 
skeletons of the trees in the ghastly light 
appeared to her like threatening figures barring 
her way. But she thought of Ilario lying on 
his bed, sick unto death, and she drew her 
long, blue cloak around her, and pressed 
onward, her feet growing wearier from the effort 
of walking through the sickening slime, which 
clogged her steps and seemed to freeze the 
life within her. Once it seemed to her that 
she saw the figure of a man before her, with 
a bleeding heart, into which a dagger was 
thrust, and that the blood dripped down, 
making a red pool on the grey mud ; but the 
horrible figure vanished, to be replaced by the 
crouching figure of a woman, who held a dead 
child in her arms ; the child's head hung over 


The Lily of Life 

the side of the woman's lap, and its hair dabbled 
in the slime on the ground. Corona cried 
out at last in an anguish of horror, but only 
her own voice seemed to echo again and again 
in the drear silence, and the woman's figure 
also vanished. Then it seemed to her that 
out of the darkness cold hands were touching 
her face, and the breath of unseen things stirred 
her hair. The sweat of fear stood on her fore- 
head, but she still pressed onward. Suddenly 
she saw a vision of three young girls, with their 
arms stretched out towards her, and all three, 
instead of eyes, had gaping holes, out of which 
snakes were creeping with a hideous, slow, 
sliding movement. And when they in their 
turn disappeared, she suddenly came upon the 
body of a man hung on one of the gaunt trees, 
and his eyes seemed still alive, and showed an 
agony no words could describe. Then Corona 
sank on her knees and hid her head in the 
cloak; she felt the cold night wind freezing 
her very bones, and for a moment she thought 
her mind would give way. There was a 



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1l ^ ■jMP^'lmH^^ l^r^ 

She Bag 

The Lily of Life 

hideous sound of wailing all around her, and 
sudden screams and hoarse whispers ; a hand 
seemed to touch her; she raised her head 
sharply, and saw what looked like the shadow 
of a man slinking away, with something terrible 
hidden beneath his cloak. Corona sank on 
the ground, and drew her hair round her 
face, wrapping herself within its golden 
masses, to shut out all sound and all vision, 
and for a long time she lay there like one 
dead, and the awful shadows flitted around 
her, but none dared harm her, because of the 
halo she wore all unconsciously round her 
head. For hours she lay thus, quite unable 
to rise, worn out by the sadness of her heart, 
the fear around her, and the exhaustion of 
tramping through the mire, that tried at each 
of her steps to draw her beneath its surface ; 
besides, she had taken no food since she left 
her father's palace. 

The grey dawn grew out of the fearful dark- 
ness, and a pale gleam of light lit up the 
horizon. Corona once more raised her head, 

F 33 

The Lily of Life 

and her golden hair fell away like great sunlit 
waves from her face, which looked out between 
them like the face of a drowned corpse, her 
eyes wide open with the fear of all she had seen. 
All her blood seemed to have left her body, 
blanching even her lips. But suddenly thought 
came back to her clearly, and with it the vision 
of Ilario dying, whom she had gone forth to 
save. She stretched both hands up to Heaven, 
and in a great cry she called to God to give 
her fresh courage ; then she struggled to her 
feet, and noticed to her relief that a new day 
was dawning, and that with the coming light 
the drear shadows had gone to rest. The great 
waste of quagmire stood out horrible in all its 
loneliness, and the stretch before her was 
covered with stripes of ghastly mist, that seemed 
alive and as if moved about by some restless 
misery. But the hideous visions had gone, and 
once more she pressed forward, her beautiful 
clothes torn and soiled, her blue cloak bordered 
with mud and discoloured by the greyish slime. 
One of her golden shoes had been sucked from 


The Lily of Life 

her foot, which was bleeding, and the other had 
lost all shape. But she heeded not her pain 
and fatigue, but struggled onward, the love in 
her heart giving her the strength she: needed. 
Thus she wandered on and on during the 
whole of the next day; and besides all her 
other fears she was afraid of what she was 
going to find when she reached the witch. 
Would she help her? Would she send her 
away ? Would she be like the awful shadows 
of the night? Would she be cruel and hard 
with her and ill-use her, now that her strength 
was nearly all gone ? 

Suddenly she saw before her the sea ! Oh, 
the sea ! Her sea ! Surely her troubles must 
end, now that the sea was once more before her 
eyes ! The sea with all its sweet recollections ! 
And in a rush all the happy visions of her child- 
hood and youth rose before her, and once more 
she sat in their golden boat, beneath the purple 
sail with its proud emblem, and once more 
Mora's hand was in hers, and all the pain of the 
last months seemed but a dream. She heard 


The Lily of Life 

Mora's happy voice telling her the tales that 
made her laugh, and saw the kind faces of her 
parents, bent down towards them from the 
upper terrace, as they landed. And she saw 
the golden steps that resembled Jacob's ladder, 
and smelt the sweet perfume of the roses that 
grew in coloured masses over the balustrade, 
on which her father and mother were leaning. . . . 
With a start she came back to reality, and 
once more all the aching fatigue took possession 
of her; wearily she sank upon a great stone, 
searching with her eyes all around her, and it 
seemed to her that not far off there was an old 
boat on the beach, lying on the white sand, 
like the body of a whale. The shadows were 
thickening, and she said to herself, wearily, that 
she had probably missed her way, and that in 
spite of having passed all the horrors of the 
swamp, she had not found what she was seeking. 
Once more, with her failing strength, she raised 
herself, feeling, that if she were to die, she 
would rather die beneath the shade of the 
kindly, forsaken-looking boat. She dragged her- 


The Lily of Life 

self slowly, slowly towards the battered vessel, 
and just as she reached it, all her life seemed to 
go from her, and she fell forward on the sand, 
her long hair streaming down towards the in- 
coming tide. When she came to herself once 
more, she found herself in a small, dark room, 
a single candle burning beside her ; and all 
around her were fishing-nets, and shells the 
colour of butterflies on the shelves and walls ; 
and a wonderful bunch of strange tinted sea- 
weed was on a small table, in a bowl of rarest 
workmanship. Beside the bowl lay an old 
leather-bound book, and on the book shone a 
pearl, of wondrous size and beauty, the like of 
which Corona had never seen, even in her father's 
treasury. All this she realized as in a strange 
dream, and with her returning faculties she 
also began to feel once more all the pain of her 
weary body, and all the ache of her heavy 

A door opened softly, and a strange woman 
came towards her- where she lay — a woman 
with a face so sad, that Corona thought she had 


The Lily of Life 

never seen anything so sad before. She was 
dressed in a plain black dress of the roughest 
stuff, and her head was shrouded in a thick, 
black veil, that hung to the ground like a cloak. 
Her colourless face was still young, but Corona 
noticed that her hair was snow-white, as if it 
had been bleached by some sudden grief. En- 
circling her neck, she wore a short string of 
wonderful pearls, round and white, and shining 
as if alive with secret life; but they seemed in 
glaring contrast to the poor clothing and sur- 
roundings. The woman bent her face to 
Corona, and laid a strong white hand on her 
aching brow, and all the pain seemed to be 
drawn from her into the long, finely shaped 
fingers, and once more Corona felt that life and 
vigour were beginning to stream through her 
body, so that she raised herself on the couch 
and sat up. Till then neither had spoken, and 
now Corona, her eyes fixed on the strange 
woman, said in a whisper : 

" Who art thou ? " And the woman 
answered : 


The Lily of Life 

" I am the wise woman thou hast come to 
seek. I am the witch, at the thought of whom 
thy heart beat with fear; but before we talk 
drink this, for thou hast come far and thy feet 
are weary, and thou hast taken no food for two 
days." And she gave her a small bowl, of 
some curious white stone, and held it to 
Corona's lips, and she drank gratefully. The 
taste of what she drank was strange and sweet, 
an unknown taste, which refreshed her and 
made her feel strong once more, so that she 
wished to rise to her feet. But the wise woman 
pressed her gently back on the bed, and said, 
in a voice that sounded like the distant moan 
of the sea : 

" Now tell me thy quest ! " 

And Corona told her about Ilario's illness, 
and how all the doctors had failed, and what 
the gipsy had said ; then she joined her hands 
in prayer, and hot tears gushed from her eyes, 
and she begged the wise woman to give her 
a cure for the sick man. 

" Be still, fair child ! " answered the woman ; 


The Lily of Life 

" long ago my heart died within me, and I 
have no more tears to shed ; the sea cries for 
me now ; I have heard her voice, and she is my 
only friend. Yet I am wise, and though dead 
and broken my heart can feel the pain of 
others ! " And then, turning to the table, and 
taking from it the old book, upon which the 
wonderful pearl lay, she put the pearl gently 
down, and op'=;ned the book. 

" See here," she continued, " this book 
was once brought me from a distant land ; 
it came from far over the sea, and within 
its pages lies all the wisdom of the World. 
With its help I can tell thee what thou 
must do." 

And as she spoke she turned over the yellow, 
faded leaves with her marble-white hands, and 
bringing the candle nearer she bent her head, 
her shadow was large and still against the 
wall behind her, and the light gleamed upon 
the snow of her hair, turning it to gold once 
more, so that Corona seemed to see her as she 
must have been before — before what ? Corona 


e LVise LUc 


The Lily of Life 

did not know, but she felt that she was in the 
presence of some great grief. 

The woman raised her head, and her eyes 
had a far-away look; and in a monotonous 
voice, as if recalling some chant of other days, 
she spoke : 

" In a far-off country, which can be reached 
only by one person quite alone, who has made 
the promise of utter silence during all her 
wanderings, there stands in the middle of a 
strange and awful forest, inhabited by cruel 
beasts, a temple of snow-white marble, com- 
posed of six separate courts, each guarded by 
a different kind of wild beast. In the sixth 
and innermost court of all there lies a pool 
of dark water, and in the midst of the pool 
grows the Lily of Life \ its whiteness is so 
intense, that human eye cannot look upon it 
without becoming blind. He who wishes to 
pick the Lily of Life is in danger of being 
drowned in the water, or blinded by the flower ; 
but he who succeeds in plucking it can heal 
any illness, stop any torment, cure any mad- 

G 41 

The Lily of Life 

ness. So saith the wisest of books." The 
woman's voice stopped, and she looked before 
her, as in a trance, whilst Corona, with beating 
heart and eager eyes, listened, listened. The 
woman did not move, and Corona, at last, 
stretched out her hand and gently touched her. 

" Oh, tell me how I can get there ! " she 

The wise woman replied, still looking straight 
before her, without turning her head : 

" Is he thy lover ? " 

" No ! " cried Corona, with a cry of pain. 
At that the woman turned and looked deep 
into her eyes. 

" And yet thou wouldst go ? " 

" Oh, yes, for Mora's sake ! " 

" Is, then, the love for a sister so great ? " 
Then Corona bent her face to her knees and 

" Say no more ! " came the soft, far-off voice, 
" say no more ! I will help thee ; thou shalt find 
the Lily of Life ; but thy courage must be great, 
and thy will must be firm, and thou must never, 


The Lily of Life 

however sorely tempted, open thy lips to speak, 
or answer any question put to thee. Thou 
must go alone, quite alone, and thou must 
not cry out in pain, if hurt; no sound of 
complaint must escape thy lips, and even if 
afraid thou must utter no sound." 

Corona listened, breathless ; she thought of 
her awful wandering across the marsh, and her 
heart felt sick within her ; but all she said was : 
" I thank thee, kind mother ! I will do thy 
bidding ; but is it not a quest above the strength 
of a simple maid like me ? " 

*' No," answered the woman, " because thy 
heart is pure, and the love that burns within 
thee is no selfish love : I will help thee." 
And she turned to a small cupboard in the wall, 
and as she did so Corona noticed for the first 
time that the room she lay in was the inside of 
a boat ! She gazed around her and saw on all 
sides strange things that reminded her of the 
sea, and a great curiosity came over her to 
know who the woman was, for she felt that 
some strange history lay behind those eyes and 


The Lily of Life 

in that voice that had taken the sound of the 
moaning sea. 

" Kind mother ! Tell me, prithee, who 
thou art," said Corona, rising from the bed 
and putting her hand on the woman's shoulder, 
" and tell me why they call thee the witch, 
when thy heart is so tender. Tell me, because 
I feel that my heart yearns towards thee, and 
because all sad women are my sisters ! " 

The strange woman paused where she stood, 
lifted her head and gazed through the tiny 
window, although all was black outside, and 
nothing but the restless sea was to be heard. 

" My voice has lost all human sound ; I have 
lived alone for many years, because I carry an 
awful sin in my heart," she replied, in her tone- 
less voice, " but unto thee I will speak, because 
my soul knoweth thy pain, and although I can 
love no more, as my heart is dead, I can pity 
those who suffer. Listen ! " 

As she said the last words, she unwound the 
black veil from her head, and as she did so her 
hair streamed all over her, snow-white, in great 


The Lily of Life 

foaming waves, and she suddenly seemed quite 
young, and a mysterious beauty lit up her sad 
features. From the table she took the wonderful 
pearl, and held it between her fingers with an 
infinite tenderness ; then she began to speak : 

" Thou seest me old, because my hair is 
white ; once it was as thine, passing fair ; my 
face was young and fresh as the opening rose ; 
but it is not age that has blanched my hair — it 
is grief! It is not the weight of years that has 
wiped out the bloom from my cheeks — it is 
tears ! I loved a fisher-lad, but I was proud, and 
pretended to play with his love, and because of 
my wondrous beauty he was my slave, and I said 
unto him : ' Fetch me pearls from the bottom 
of the sea, pearls to wear round my neck ! ' At 
first he came back from his wanderings and 
brought no pearls — he brought me yonder strange 
and beautiful bowl of gold and precious stones, 
and those strange coloured seaweeds that it 
contains. He dived deep, in unheard-of places, 
through awfiil danger, to bring them to me, but 
I was not content. He brought me that bowl 


The Lily of Life 

from which thou drankest, — a strange treasure 
from an Indian temple, once thrown into the 
sea by an angry priest ; and he brought me these 
glowing, coloured shells; but I said I would 
have pearls — pearls the tears of the sea — pearls 
more wondrous than any king possessed, to 
wear them round my throat. So he dived 
always deeper, and in more dangerous spots, 
and after each journey he brought me a 
pearl. Now, behold, I have forty pearls more 
beautiful than any thy father possesses ; they are 
white as snow, and yet each seems alive with 
living blood ! But still I was not content, and 
I wept, saying I desired to possess a pearl larger 
than any yet known, and my lover was sad 
because the years passed, and I was never 
satisfied. Yet I loved him well, but the youth 
within me was proud and wicked, and those 
around me called me the witch, because of the 
power I had through my beauty. I was tempted 
to misuse it. 

" On a glorious summer's morn my lover 
started once more, and before he left I kissed 


The Lily of Life 

him on the lips, and said that on his return with 
the pearl I would become his wife. And his face 
was glad; and I stood on the shore and waved 
my golden hair to him till he disappeared 
over the shining waves. When he was quite 
out of sight, I sat down on a rock and sang 
a song of wild triumph, so sure was I that 
he would return with the pearl I had wished 
for. But one awful morning the storm -tossed 
sea cast up his boat, and within it he lay, cold, 
white, and dead. Between his hands he held 
a great pearl — a pearl of such wondrous size 
and beauty as no man had ever seen — and in his 
eyes the tears were frozen into sparkling dia- 
monds, and curious, coloured seaweeds clung to 
his clothes ; and his face was sad, sad with a 
wondering look upon it, as if he still had a 
question left unanswered." The woman paused 
and drew her white hair over her face, and then 
slowly, very slowly, she once more spoke : 

" For three days I lay upon his body to try 
to warm life back into him, but in vain; and 
when at last they lifted me from him my hair 


The Lily of Life 

was as white as it is now ! And we buried him 
Qut there, beneath the great rock, and all the 
sea-birds came and sat upon his grave. I 
made my home in his old boat, and have lived 
here ever since, surrounded by the things he 
gave me. For many years I did nothing but sit 
by the sea, in all weathers, quite close to his 
grave, my hands folded in my lapi and my hair 
swept backwards and forwards like sea-foam in 
the storm. One day an old man came to me — 
who he was I do not know — but he had come 
from far. He had known and loved my dear one, 
and he put this book into my hand, saying : 
' Make amends for thy sin by being useful to 
others ! Here in this book thou shalt find all 
the wisdom of the East and West ; give all thy 
mind to it, and become a blessing unto others, 
as thou hast been a curse unto him that loved 
thee ! ' He left me, and from that day I have 
done as he bade me, and now people call me 
the wise woman or the witch, because of my 
great knowledge." The white-haired woman 
paused, and the one candle threw weird lights 


The Lily of Life 

on her tall figure ; in her pale hands she held the 
old book, and they seemed to touch its faded 
pages tenderly. 

"Now this pearl always lies on the book," 
she continued dreamily, " reminding me of my 
wisdom and my folly." 

Her eyes seemed to seek something far away, 
and her voice became more than ever like the 
moan of the sea. For a while neither spoke, 
but Corona had taken hold of the sad woman's 
hand, and laid it against her cheek. Outside 
the wind howled, and the seagulls' screams were 
like the voices of drowning men. Corona 
shuddered, but then gave her whole attention 
to the low voice of the woman, who turned to 
her, and said : 

" Now I will give thee what thou needest 
for thy painful wanderings " ; and she opened 
the small cupboard and laid three things in 
Corona's hands — a curious piece of metal, 
which she called a magnet, and which she 
explained would draw the wanderer always 
towards the place she was seeking, so that she 
H 49 

The Lily of Life 

must follow it blindly wherever it led, however 
difficult the road; a little strangely shaded 
lamp that would light of itself when she needed 
help ; and a round piece of yellow glass, which 
she was to hold before her eyes, so as to be 
able to approach the Lily, which otherwise 
would blind her. Corona took the wise 
woman's hand and kissed it, saying : 

" May God bless thee for thy help ; may 
the good action bring back a little gladness to 
thy heart ; but one inore question : I pray thee 
now tell me if I must return over the fearful 
swamp. And may I go a moment to my 
father's castle to tell my sister of the hope I 
have to help her ? and then "—here Corona 
bent her head low, and her voice became but a 
whisper—" I wish to gaze once more — before 

I go; I should have more courage if " 

Her voice choked, and she leant her face 
against the door of the cabin. 

" Thou canst go by sea to thy father s castle, 
and I will send a seagull to tell thy faithful 
follower, Yno, to await thee on the beach. 


The Lily of Life 

But only at night must thou enter the castle, 
when all are sleeping; and thou shalt not 
speak with any one, but here is a message for 
thy sister; it will tell her that her heart may 
hope, and," gently added the woman, " do 
not awake those that sleep, not even if it 
would make thy going easier ; no one must 
know why thou goest, nor what force sustains 
thee — dost understand ? " And she laid her 
hand on Corona's shoulder, and looked at her 
gravely, with sad eyes that seemed to have 
concentrated within them all the gazing of 
those who search without finding. " I shall 
watch over thy wanderings ; and when thou 
deemst thyself most forsaken, then will my 
thoughts be with thee. Depart with courage ; 
I will take thee to my boat." 

They descended to the seashore, where a 
small boat stood tied to an old post. 

" My boat will take thee the right way. 
God be with thee ; and in thy tears for thyself 
weep also for me, who have no more tears to 
shed ! " 


The Lily of Life 

Corona sprang into the boat, clasping within 
her hands the magnet, the little lamp, and 
the yellow glass. The strange woman stood 
tall and straight on the seashore, like the statue 
of grief, without a movement either of farewell 
or encouragement, whilst the waves took 
possession of the boat, and carried Corona 
far out, so that the woman's silent figure soon 
became but a speck in the distance. 

All day the boat moved of itself, and Corona 
watched the sun gradually change its place. 
It was only as night fell that she suddenly 
discovered her father's castle standing out, a 
dark mass against the sky. Her whole being 
seemed to call for those days for ever past, 
when she had been a happy child at Mora's 
side, and when each awakening day had 
contained a world of joy ! On the beach 
stood Yno, his faithful face all lit up ; but 
Corona laid her finger on her lips, and made 
him understand that she must pronounce not 
a word. Then slowly and noiselessly she began 
to ascend the long golden stairs between the 


The Lily of Life 

two lines of dark cypresses, and it seemed to 
her as if all the familiar things had become 
strange, like things only seen in a dream 
and vaguely remembered. She pressed her 
hands over her golden hair, wondering if it 
had turned as white as the wise woman's. 
Slowly, slowly, she mounted the stairs, and 
never had her limbs seemed less elastic ; 
never had the beautiful steps seemed to her 
so endless. All was dark and quiet within the 
castle, but for fear of being seen. Corona waited 
long beneath a dark tree, so as to slip into 
the house when all were sleeping. Suddenly 
the window of her mother's room opened, 
and she saw her mother looking wistfully across 
the sea, in the direction of the place whence 
Corona had started. She noticed that her face 
looked worn, and that she folded her hands 
as if in prayer. Corona longed to rush forward 
and cry out that she was there, to be taken 
into those kind arms, and to give way like a 
little child to all her grief But she remem- 
bered her vow of silence, and smothered the 


The Lily of Life 

words that rose to her lips, pressing her face 
against the rough bark of a tree to resist the 
almost overwhelming temptation to ask for help 
in her trouble. The friendly window closed 
once more, and all again was still. 

After a little while Corona slipped into the 
silent castle, and with infinite precautions she 
contrived, without being seen, to reach the room 
where Ilario was lying ill. She softly opened 
the door, and in the half light of the room she 
found her sister asleep with her head on Ilario's 
feet ; but the sick man's eyes were wide open 
with the terrible fever which had his body in 
its grasp. Corona's heart beat so fast that she 
had to lean against the wall, so as not to fall. 
Her knees seemed to give way beneath her, and 
her pulses to be throbbing in her eyes. She 
was afraid she might awaken the sleeping Mora, 
because to her all the room seemed filled with 
the sound of her heart-throbs. On her knees 
she dragged herself to the bed, and then a 
fearful longing came over her. Once, only 
once, she must — yes, she must put her lips to 


The Lily of Life 

his; once before she went to bring him life, 
for another. — Surely God would not punish 
her for this ! She would bear all if she 
could have but that one supreme happiness ! 
She bent her head down — -oh, so softly ! And 
the sick man seemed to smile at her, and then 
for a short, wonderful moment she pressed her 
lips to his burning ones. Then Corona was 
filled with a nameless terror ; she hastily rose, 
leaving the wise woman's message between her 
sleeping sister's fingers. Then, noiselessly, like 
a thief, she left the room, the castle, and rushed 
blindly down the long stairs of gold, as if afraid 
of her own thoughts. When she reached the 
shore, she saw the witch's boat still there. She 
sprang into it, with only one thought — to get 
away, away, far from temptation, and begin all 
her terrible wanderings. As the boat left the 
shore, she saw Yno come rushing down the old 
stairs, like a shadow in the dark night, and to 
her horror she saw him dash into the sea, just 
as he was, to try to reach her boat, which was 
already drifting rapidly away. Then the sudden 


The Lily of Life 

fear came to her that he would be drowned; 
she did not know how td stop the boat, because 
the magnet was already drawing it far away, in 
the direction that she had to go. With all her 
soul she prayed that the boat might pause a mo- 
ment. She cried to the distant wise woman : 
" Let not that faithful heart perish ! Let me 
not add that horror to the burden I already 
bear ! " Then the boat stopped suddenly, and 
Yno's head appeared as a speck in the water. 
After what seemed an endless time he reached 
the boat, clambered in, and poured out a torrent 
of words. Corona was afraid he would die, 
such was his breathless exhaustion. But through 
it all she remembered her vow of silence, and 
although the despairing youth besought her to 
return, or to allow him to come with her, she 
kept her fingers on her lips, and shook her 

How could she make him understand that 
she must go alone, and that no companion must 
share her lonely wanderings ? How could she 
induce him to leave her ? The boat began to 


She Sick 9r 


The Lily of Life 

move again, and Corona felt that it was im- 
possible to abandon him once more to the waves, 
so she decided in her mind to let him lie at 
her feet till the boat reached some shore. She 
drew her cloak round him, as he lay shivering, 
his arms clasping her knees, and she could not 
help a feeling of comfort to know him there, to 
feel his living, breathing form close against her, 
to guess at the faithful look in his eyes in that sad, 
dark night. He had given up questioning her, 
when he found that for some reason she could 
not or would npt answer him, and lay there like 
a faithful dog, guarding her with all his jealous 
devotion, little understanding what a difficulty 
his presence caused, and how she was pondering 
in what way she could make him understand 
that he must not follow her. By degrees his 
gasping breath became calmer, and she noticed 
that he had dropped into a peaceful sleep. But 
Corona sat straight and still, her eyes fixed on 
the darkness, with the vision always before her 
eyes of the sick man on his bed of suffering, 
and of her sister lying with her head on his feet. 

I 57 

The Lily of Life 

At daybreak they reached a shore which 
looked desolate enough, and there the boat ran 
into the sand as if drawn by invisible hands. Yno 
lifted Corona out, and then came the moment 
when she had to make him understand that he 
must leave her. She noticed that he was watch- 
ing her anxiously. At last she decided to write 
on the sand with a sharp stone : " Follow me 
not, for I must go alone. Obey me, else will all 
my weary toil be of no avail. If thou lovest me, 
make it not hard for me." So once more, with 
a breaking heart, he saw her go ; this time over 
a bleached, desert-like plain, where the sun 
seemed to beat down, mercilessly devouring all 
that tried to grow. But there was no doubt 
that the magnet was drawing Corona farther 
and farther over that burning plain. She 
walked on and on, regardless of the scorching 
sun, and stumbling against the rolling stones 
that lay everywhere. There was no tree to be 
seen, no path, no comfortable shade, no green 
blade of grass to refresh the eye. On, on she 
wandered, till she felt almost faint with the pain 


The Lily of Life 

of her bleeding feet and the terrible thirst that 
was torturing her. The hopelessness of it was, 
that she could see no end to this awful plain; 
only in the far distance rose great mountains, 
like those one sees in a painting, with the feeling 
that they are only there as a background. All 
of a sudden she heard the sound of wings, and 
a tiny little brown bird flew towards her and 
settled on her shoulder. An indescribable 
feeling of comfort came to the poor girl at this 
little living creature seeking shelter near her, 
on this wide plain where she had seemed the 
only living being. Then the little brown bird 
began to sing — oh ! in such a heart-melting way, 
with a voice of such exquisite beauty, that 
Corona felt as if all her fatigue were leaving 
her, and new life were coming to her from an 
unknown source. That exquisite song ! it con- 
tained in its notes all that her heart must keep 
silent, all the promise of future happiness, all 
the pictures of her sweet childhood, all the 
peace and beauty that might be. And whilst 
the little brown bird sang, she seemed to walk 


The Lily of Life 

much quicker, and at last the mountains that 
had looked quite out of her reach came 
nearer. But the sun was sinking, and Corona 
felt that she must take some rest, or she would 
be unable to go farther. Besides, she had eaten 
nothing since she had left the witch's boat- 
house, and she knew that she must die of 
starvation if no help came to her. The little 
brown bird had flown away, and as the 
marvellous little voice died down in the distance. 
Corona once more felt all her weakness. She 
sank to the ground wearily, beside a grey rock, 
great dizziness came over her, though she tried 
to shake it off, and a curious feeling of faintness, 
as if her life were slipping from her little by 
little, as water leaks from a cracked vessel. 
She made an effort to keep her consciousness, 
but in vain ; her head dropped, and all became 
dark around her. When she opened her eyes 
again, she could at first remember nothing, and 
she knew not how long she had been un- 
conscious, but it seemed to her that she was 
no more there, in the great burning plain, 


The Lily of Life 

though she was still too weak to sit up and 

Suddenly she heard the sweet voice of the little 
bird, singing ! singing ! Oh, the joy of that 
sweet song ! Did some kind angel send her 
the little bird, to keep her from despair ? What 
was the magic power in that bird's voice, to make 
her feel life coming back each time it sang ? 
She sat up, and all around her she saw a shady 
wood, where the sunshine filtered golden-yellow 
through the leaves. She rubbed her eyes — yes ! 
she was not dreaming ; quite close by ran a little 
crystal stream. Corona bent down towards it, 
and putting her lips to the water quenched her 
thirst. It seemed to her that never before had 
anything tasted so good, and then to her intense 
relief she saw some great melons close by. Oh, 
such a grand feast they were ! And all the time 
she wondered how she had got to this place 
during her sleep or her faint. Had the magnet 
drawn her there ? She now felt that it was 
urging her forward once more ; so she rose to 
her feet, much refreshed, and walked on as fast 


The Lily of Life 

as she could. This time her way lay along the 
clear little stream, and the moss growing along- 
side was soft to walk on. But by degrees it 
seemed to her as if the air were getting much 
colder, and soon she noticed that the moss 
beneath her feet had been touched by frost, and 
looked withered and brown. Also the wood 
became thinner, till at last she was in the open 
once more ; the little stream was becoming 
bigger, and instead of moss now beneath her 
feet there were stones ; the stones grew larger 
and rougher, and the air became still colder. 
Soon the water in the stream froze, and a cold 
wind blew her hair about and made her shiver. 
On she pressed, the magnet always dragging her 
forward. Her limbs now were numb with cold, 
and her breath was visible like clouds of smoke 
that hung in the air, and remained frozen like 
a white haze on her hair and clothes. She felt 
an intolerable pain over all her body, and her 
feet were so cold, that each time they hit against 
a stone she almost cried aloud. But her 
courage did not give way, even in her half- 


The Lily of Life 

conscious state. She wondered what sort of force 
sustained her, and once more all her past life 
unfurled in beautiful visions before her eyes, and 
she felt as if the Corona of then and now were 
two separate beings ; one a vision in an im- 
possible dream of happiness, and the other a 
creature on whom all the pain of the world 
hung heavily. On, on she stumbled ; around 
her the country became more desolate, the air 
colder, till each breath she drew seemed to cut 
her lungs like a knife. On, on, but her steps 
became more lagging, and the pain caused by 
the cold and fatigue was intolerable. Suddenly 
the aspect of her surroundings changed, and she 
saw before her an immense frozen lake, dark and 
terrible, overhung by tremendous black rocks 
that dropped straight into it on all sides like 
great walls. And colder and colder grew the 
air, so that the tears of pain that came to her 
eyes froze against her cheeks. 

" I can bear no more ! " she whispered ; " I 
shall die of fatigue, and cold, and pain. And 
to die would be a relief. Oh, dear God above ! 


The Lily of Life 

Let me die ! " But no answer came from any- 
side, only fearful silence all around; nothing 
breathed except herself. Suddenly a shadow fell 
before her, the great shadow of a man, and such 
a terror seized Corona, that all that had gone 
before seemed as nothing in comparison. She 
had not the courage to turn round, and held 
back the shriek that came to her throat. Each 
time she moved the shadow moved also ; she 
felt as if some devil were following her, some 
spirit out of a terrible, unknown world. But as 
her foot reached the ice of the lake she stopped 
a moment, not daring to trust herself upon 
its shining surface. Before her stretched the 
dangerous sheet of ice ; behind her lurked that 
nameless terror. Like a hunted animal she 
crouched down and hid her face in her cloak. 
Suddenly she felt a touch on her shoulder, and 
with all the courage that remained to her she 
turned round. Above her stood an old man, all 
frozen he seemed, like the country round; his 
great beard was covered with icicles, and on his 
head he wore a wide felt hat, that shaded his 


^e Bittle SroLon Bird 

The Lily of Life^ 

face. His hands, and what was to be seen of 
his face, were blue from the frost. His eyes 
were deep-sunk and had a cruel look, his mouth 
twitched, as if with curses. 

" What doest thou here in my region ? How 
darest thou come and disturb my eternal silence ? 
By what right does thy foot awaken echoes in 
this place of the forgotten ? See here ! " — and 
the man pointed to a place where a great num- 
ber of rocks, all about the same size, gleamed 
in the cold light. " Look closer ! " he ordered. 
" Those are not rocks — they are the bodies of 
all who disturbed my eternal rest with their 
voices and their echoing steps ! " 

Corona then saw that indeed each rock had 
a human form, and when she came nearer 
she noticed that the faces were ghastly, all 
expressing the same terrible longing to be 

" Answer me," continued the man. " Why 
hast thou come here ? " 

Corona made no reply, but gazed up at him, 
and then pointed across the frozen lake, and 

K 65 

The Lily of Life 

each time the man pressed her to speak ?he 
only pointed towards the lake. 

" Aha ! Thou hast no voice — that is good 
for thee ! For, above all, it is the human voice 
I cannot bear ! But I shall let thee go where 
thou wouldst, because thine eyes have a look I 
have never seen before ; nevertheless thou must 
pay me ! For it is not only thine eyes that I 
fancy, but also thy wonderful hair, that has the 
colour of the sun, which I never see ! Give me 
thy hair, and thou shalt go free." 

Corona obediently bent her beautiful head, 
and with a few rough slashes of his knife the 
man severed the golden treasure, and it lay like 
ripe corn at her feet. 

" Out of this I shall make myself a nest to 
keep me warm, but thou wilt be the colder ! " 
And he laughed an awful, mirthless laugh, that 
echoed all around the mountains. 

Corona certainly felt a strange feeling with- 
out her mantle of golden hair, and the cold bit 
more cruelly without its warm protection. But 
the dreadful man picked up the beautiful shining 


The Lily of Life 

mass, twisted it like a muff round his blue 
hands, and went away still laughing. 

The magnet became more insistent, and 
Corona, looking like some beautiful page-boy, 
now that her long hair was gone, at last ven- 
tured on the ice. As she did so, a peculiar 
whirring sound came from all sides, and she was 
surrounded by innumerable strange birds, all 
snow-white ; many of them seized Corona's 
blue cloak, and she felt herself gliding softly 
across the mirror-like ice, as if she had been on 
skates. The birds were all round her, preventing 
her from falling, forming a great chair with 
their snowy wings, supporting her back, and 
screening her from the cutting blasts of the 
wind. Corona gave herself up to their care, 
with a feeling of sweet relief, and as in a swift 
sledge she was borne away towards the great 
wall of mountains that rose almost black at the 
end of the lake. When they reached it, the 
birds circled once or twice round her with 
curious, sad shrieks, as if loth to leave her ; but 
gradually they began to fly higher and higher, 


The Lily of Life 

till they seemed like a snowstorm far up in the 
air. Corona wondered what was to come next, 
because, in spite of the bitter cold, which still 
froze her limbs, she felt more rested. Suddenly 
the magnet gave a jerk upwards in her hand. 
Corona gazed at the barrier before her, and 
realized that in that black wall of rock there 
were steps — steps cut into the stone, that lay 
one above the other, perpendicularly, and led 
up, up, up farther than eye could see. What ! 
Was she to climb that awful staircase ? Up 
that wall of rock, where a single slip would 
mean certain death upon the ice beneath ? Up 
that fearful wall, where there was nothing to 
cling to except the next step ? She could not ! 
She could not! With her aching feet and 
frozen fingers she could not ! She almost 
wished the dreadful man had turned her into a 
rock like the others who had tried to come the 
same way as she. 

Then suddenly it seemed to her as if a vision 
passed before her eyes ; she saw Ilario as he had 
been that first day of their meeting by the pool, 


The Lily of Life 

in his golden, gleaming armour, young and 
healthy ; and then she saw him fever- stricken 
on his bed of suffering, and she knew that she 
would face that awful ascent. With a prayer 
for God's help she mounted the first step, the 
second — the third — up, up ; soon she was far 
above the frozen lake. Her feet were bleeding, 
her hands could hardly feel the stone to which 
they clung. She dared not look up or down, 
but kept her face pressed close to the rock, so 
as to see nothing of the fearful depth yawning 
beneath her, which, with each step, grew greater. 
But all the same a great feeling of sickness was 
coming over her ; she knew her strength was 
failing ; and like one drowning she saw all her 
life over again in vivid flashes. Yet the magnet 
drew her on, on. Each step seemed now more 
impossible to take, and on each she had to rest 
long, her face pressed against the next step, 
incapable of moving, feeling ill with horror and 
despair. She knew that her strength was ebbing 
fast, but that all would soon be over, and that 
her end was near. The instinct of self-pre- 


The Lily of Life 

servation was all that still remained to her, 
and gave her mutilated hands the power to 
cling on. 

But what was that ? Was she dreaming ? 
No ! The flutter of tiny wings, and then a voice 
so sweet, so heavenly sweet, so exquisite, that 
it penetrated every fibre of her being ! And 
a soft, brown, little body was close against 
her cheek. Oh, that sweet song ! So full of 
a happiness that was no more hers. But that 
so took possession of her, that all physical 
sensations seemed to exist no more. That 
brave little voice sent forth all its perfection 
of sound, and Corona, quite unconsciously, 
climbed higher and higher. The nearer the 
top she came, the warmer was the air, and 
the sweeter did the little brown bird sing. It 
seemed to have many souls, all of which it 
expressed in its heavenly song. Corona 
stretched out her hand to find another step, 
but — oh J was it possible ? Her hand met a 
broad, smooth surface. She opened her eyes 
— could it be true ? Was it not some terrible 


The Lily of Life 

fantastic vision? Could it be that she had 
reached the top of that fearful wall of rock ? 
A last great effort, that made her feel her 
life was going from her, and she was really 
over the edge, and the frozen lake below 
seemed like a far-off well of darkness. Corona 
shut her eyes, and remained lying flat on the 
ground, all her strength spent, shuddering with 
the fearful realization of what she had escaped. 
Her feet and hands were bleeding, her clothes 
were torn, her hair no longer protected her 
neck from the cold, all her body was bruised, 
and the pain she felt was such, that her only 
longing was to die — to die, never to have to 
lift her head again. But the little brown bird 
wished it otherwise. It came quite near, and 
brushing her bent head with its soft feathers, 
it began its song again. It sang with the 
voice of all that is beautiful in the world — a 
voice such as one hopes that the angels will 
have. Although Corona was too weak to 
move, that song comforted her as nothing else 
could comfort her, and the sun looked down 


The Lily of Life 

upon her prostrate form, and sent out his 
warmest rays to thaw her frozen Hmbs. So 
strong were his beams, that Httle strawberry 
plants near by unfurled their leaves, disclosing 
bunches of beautiful red fruit, that hung like 
shining little drops of blood on their thin 
stalks. And the little brown bird continued 
to sing, sing; and whilst it sang Corona fell 
into a deep sleep. She slept many hours, 
and when she awoke the sun had done his 
work well, and she felt warm at last. She 
sat up, and found the beautiful strawberries, 
which refreshed her, but she longed for some- 
thing more sustaining, she felt so weak and 
hungry. The magnet was beginning to draw 
her on again. She noticed that she was on 
a very high plateau with a wonderful view, 
far up over the terrible lake. She could look 
over the mountains into other valleys which 
faded away into a hazy blue. 

" I must be very high up," she said to herself, 
" because I seem to overlook all the world ; but 
I wonder where the Lily lies ; I wonder if I 


J^he J-rozen I^ahe' 

The Lily of Life 

shall ever get there ! And if I get there, shall 
I be in time ? And how shall I get back with 
the precious flower ? " And a great feeling of 
discouragement overwhelmed her. She looked 
at her wounded feet, her lacerated hands, her 
torn clothes, felt her head shorn of its glorious 
gold ; then she burst into tears. Like a little 
child she sobbed as if her heart would break, 
but the magnet left her no peace ; it began 
dragging her on towards a far-off forest. She 
was seized bjr a sudden terror lest perhaps she 
had lost the little lamp and the yellow 
glass. She felt in her pocket — no, they were 
there, quite safe; she struggled to her feet; 
she was in great pain, and could move but 

After about an hour's very slow progress, 
she saw, with a throb of pleasure, a tiny house 
hidden under a great shady tree. She ap- 
proached it noiselessly and with great hesitation, 
feeling that she could no more find the strength 
to meet cruel faces or angry words. She crept 
up cautiously to the little window; within 

^ 73 

The Lily of Life 

sat two men by a fire, cooking something in a 
pot. One man was middle-aged, the other was 
quite young, and had a handsome face and 
long brown curls that fell upon his shoulders. 
Both men were clad in rough leather clothes 
with large belts, and each had an axe. "Wood- 
cutters," thought Corona. " They look rough, 
but perhaps their hearts will be compassionate 
and they will let me rest, and perhaps even 
give me a little of their food"; so very nervously 
she knocked at the door. It was immediately 
opened, and the young man stood before her. 
She was just going to ask for their hospitality, 
when she remembered her vow of silence, so 
she stood there with bent head, her hands 
raised in supplication. She was so beautiful, 
in spite of the sorry plight she was in, that 
the young man stepped back with a gesture 
of wonder. 

" Strange maiden, whence comest thou ? " he 
asked, beckoning her to enter. But Corona 
shook her head sadly, and put her hand to 
her mouth to indicate that she was dumb. 


The Lily of Life 

The older man had also risen, and in a rough 
but not unkind voice demanded : 

" What seekest thou of us in this poor 
hut ? " 

Again Corona shook her head, pointing to her 
wounded feet, her torn hands and clothes, making 
them understand that she was weary, weary 
unto death ! The young man led her to a'^bed 
of skins in the corner, and all the time he kept 
gazing at her beautiful face ; and shyly and 
with wonder he touched the tissue of her dark- 
blue cloak, the torn but beautiful under-dress, 
and the golden belt round her waist. But 
when he saw the state of her bleeding feet he 
brought a rough, wooden basin, and very gently, 
with his awkward hands, bathed her feet in cold 
water, which made her wince with pain. And 
whilst his son was making himself thus useful, 
the old woodcutter tried to make Corona talk, 
but all in vain. He told her that he and his 
son were woodmen of the forest yonder, a great 
and endless forest, to the middle of which no 
one had quite penetrated as yet; but that he 


The Lily of Life 

and his boy earned a living by cutting wood 
on its outskirts. That though poor, they were 
contented, but in winter in constant danger, 
because of all the wild animals that lived in the 
forest, and came out only in winter in search 
of food, and often they had to make big fires 
all round their hut, to keep them off. He 
asked her who she was, whence she came, why 
she was alone, and where she wanted to go. 
But Corona remained silent, only shaking her 
head, till the man really imagined she was 
dumb. At last he asked her if she was hungry, 
and at that her eyes became so eager, that he 
smiled kindly. Turning to the smoking pot 
on the fire, he filled a great wooden bowl with 
a sort of thick soup, which smelt invitingly, and 
putting a big wooden spoon into Corona's hand, 
bade her eat. Corona looked at him gratefully, 
and gave him such a sweet smile, that the old 
man cried out : 

" There ! There ! Those eyes say more than 
words ; thou couldst melt the heart of a stone. 
Eat, now, and I will ask no more questions. My 


The Lily of Life 

son seems to find thy face fair, certainly, by the 
way he looks at thee." 

The boy started, but Corona smiled down 
at him so kindly, that, feeling encouraged, he 
dragged from beneath the bed a store of old 
but clean rags, and began, not unskilfully, to 
wrap them round Corona's sore feet, making 
a rough kind of shoes, like those that Italian 
peasants wear. Corona longed to say some 
kind word to him to show her gratitude. The 
hospitality of the two rough men was infinitely 
comforting after her dreadful days of loneliness. 
Then the old man began to talk again, seeming 
pleased to have some one to listen to him. He 
told of their simple life, how his wife had died 
whilst his son Rollo was quite a baby, how he 
had brought him up as best he could, and how 
they very seldom saw a living soul. Rollo, who 
had finished binding Corona's feet, sat on the floor, 
after having fetched himself a bowl of soup ; 
and joined from time to time in his father's talk. 
They certainly seemed happy to have a guest. 

" There is a legend," continued the old man, 


The Lily of Life 

"that quite in the middle of the forest there 
stands a wonderful snow-white temple." 

Corona started. 

" But," continued the old man, " no one has 
ever seen it; the forest is so thick, and the 
animals that live in it are so fierce, that no one 
has ever had the courage to go far. But they 
say that the temple has many courts, and that 
in the middle court lies some hidden treasure, 
some curious, unknown mystery, and that the 
person who can reach it will get his heart's 
desire, and see great things." Corona listened 
breathlessly, and pressed her hand on her heart. 
Was she so near the end of her search ? Was 
it really here, here ? 

" And," the voice of the elder man broke in 
upon her thoughts, " at first the wood seems 
beautiful, the trees are so high and straight, 
and such beautiful birds fly about fi-om branch 
to branch ; but those who try to go too far in 
never return. That legend of the white temple 
with its mystery has lured many on to try their 
luck, but, as I say, none ever return." 


The Lily of Life 

The fire crackled with a comfortable sound, 
the man talked on, and RoUo sat gazing at 
Corona, whilst the flames threw curious lights 
and shades on her face, as she eagerly listened 
to the man's tale. But fearful anxiety grew in 
her heart as she thought of the dangers that still 
lay before her. She was already so tired, and 
her nerves had been so badly shaken by all she 
had gone through, that she wondered if she 
might remain a night in the hut to rest, or if 
the magnet would draw her on again, without 
leaving her any time to recover. For the 
moment it lay quite passive in her hand, and in 
her pocket she felt the little lamp and the piece 
of yellow glass, both of which in some mysterious 
way had remained unbroken in spite of all she 
had endured. By degrees the man's talk 
grew less animated, and he, too, began gazing 
into the fire with the natural silence of those 
who live mostly alone. Corona felt a sort of 
peace stealing over her whole being, and a great 
wish to sleep seemed to be pressing down her 
eyelids. Rollo noticed this, and told his father 


The Lily of Life 

that they had better go to work, whilst they 
let their guest rest in the single bed. Corona 
accepted readily. RoUo unfastened her cloak, 
and laid it awkwardly but gently over her, then 
rolled up some rags to put under her head as 
a pillow. Never had her golden bed in her 
father's castle seemed so sweet to Corona as this 
rough and not over-clean woodman's couch. 
Hardly had she laid her head down, than sleep 
took possession of her. RoUo remained, a hand 
on his hip, gazing upon her fair form, with a 
growing astonishment in his eyes. His father, 
roughly, but not unkindly, drew him away. 

" Son, son ! " he said, " look not too long 
upon her — she is not for thee ! And sometimes, 
from too much gazing, the eyes later become 
weary with longing to see that which they can 
find no more." 

RoUo worked hard all that afternoon, but 
with a curious, restless longing to get back to 
the hut. Hefwould have liked to ask his father 
many questions, but a sort of shyness held him 
back ; besides, these two men were unaccustomed 


Jhe k^teps 

The Lily of Life 

to exchange ideas on subjects out of their daily 
round. Rollo kept wondering why the strange 
maiden had such fair hair, such a white skin ; 
why her mouth was like a red flower, yet 
unlike anything he had ever seen. And he 
remembered the smallness of her feet, as he had 
washed them, and their velvety softness. He 
passed his hand over his brow, and stood a 
moment idle, and all around him seemed alive 
with a new meaning. 

" Rollo," said his father, " work and do not 
ponder ! It is better for thee." 

But at sunset they returned to the hut, and it 
was with eagerness that Rollo opened the low 
door. There sat the wondrous stranger, on his 
own little stool, by the glowing embers of the 
fire. She smiled them a greeting as they entered, 
regretting bitterly that her vow obliged her to 
utter silence. She longed to talk to them, to 
thank them, to express her gratitude ; but she 
could only look at them with her great, sad, 
brown eyes, which reflected all her emotions. 
They begged her to stay the night ; they would 
M 8i 

The Lily of Life 

give her their bed, and they themselves would 
sleep on the floor by the fire. She helped them 
with the cooking of their simple supper, sorry to 
be of so little use, as in her royal education with 
the old philosopher cooking had never even 
been mentioned. RoUo felt a great longing to 
beg the beautiful maiden to remain always, never 
to leave them again, but he dared not express his 
thoughts — he was unaccustomed to many words. 
Soon they all went to rest, and once more the 
young boy had the joy of wrapping Corona up 
in her cloak on their bed, whilst the father watched 
half amused, half sad. Then Rollo spread his 
own rough bearskin over her feet, and laid 
himself down on the hard floor as near to her 
as he dared. Corona slept peacefully many 
hours, but she was awakened by the magnet 
in her hand, that suddenly seemed full of life 
and impatience, urging her forwards. She got 
up hastily, and as noiselessly as she could, realiz- 
ing that it was best not to wake the sleeping 
men. But it was with a great pang of regret 
that she had to leave them thus, and she wondered 


The Lily of Life 

what she could give them as thanks. She had 
nothing. And then she thought of her golden, 
jewelled belt; she slipped it oiF, and taking a 
piece of charcoal from the fire, wrote upon the 
table the words : " God bless you for your kind- 
ness ! " Laying the belt gently down, she softly 
crept from the hut, with the weary feeling of the 
wanderer who must always move on ; and re- 
gretting that she must seem so base as to run 
away from those who had been so hospitable 
to her. 

Outside it was still almost dark, but the 
magnet was very impatient, so that she began to 
run, only dimly realizing that she was being 
dragged towards the great forest. Just about 
sunrise she reached the first trees, and courage- 
ously began to pick her way among them, 
though the woodcutter's words rang in her ears 
all the time, and she realized the dangers that 
were awaiting her, wishing she had been able 
to take Rollo and his father with her. It was, 
as the man had said, a magnificent forest ; she 
had never seen such wonderfiil trees, all firs, 


The Lily of Life 

but so tall, that when she looked up she could 
hardly see their crowns. Thick moss grew up 
their trunks, so that all around her seemed 
bathed in a soft, green light. She noticed, too, 
that strange plants grew there, unlike those she 
knew in her own forest at home. Certainly 
they were larger and more intense in colour, 
their shapes were strange, difFerent from any 
she had seen till now. She plucked a beautifril 
blood-red star, which grew as high as her 
shoulder; the smell was extraordinarily sweet, 
but made her feel a little dizzy. Suddenly she 
saw a golden light flitting from tree to tree, 
which she discovered was a magnificent bird with 
large wings and great, soft plumes in its tail ; 
it uttered strange, melodious sounds like a far- 
off call, and other birds answered, flying towards 
it — birds with dreamlike colours and strange 
notes. For a time it was such a joy watching 
them, that Corona, quite unconsciously, walked 
deep into the forest, and when she turned 
round she no more saw the point from which 
she had started. Bushes of beautiful fruit grew 


The Lily of Life 

close by ; Corona wondered if she dared taste 
them, or if they were poisonous, but being so 
thirsty, she decided to run the risk; the taste 
was delicious, and revived her. 

The wood grew thicker and thicker, and a 
great many creeping plants on the ground made 
her progress difficult, catching her feet and 
hindering her movements. Nevertheless she 
would not be discouraged, and till now the 
beauty of all she saw was ample reward. Sud- 
denly her foot slipped on something cold and 
slimy, and she caught hold of a branch to pre- 
vent herself from falling. She looked down, 
and with a gasp of horror found she had trodden 
on a great snake — a snake of an enormous size 
and beautiful colour, as everything seemed to 
be in this wonderful forest. The snake, how- 
ever, did not move — it seemed fast asleep ; but 
a shudder of fear ran all through Corona's body, 
and she felt afraid of each step she took. Yet 
what could she do but always press forward ? 
Was not the object of her search near at hand : 
that wonderful flower which was to bring life 


The Lily of Life 

back to the loved one and happiness to her 
sweet sister ? 

Once more she heard Mora's happy laugh of 
former days ; and remembered also the blanched 
face of anxiety since Ilario's illness. So, fearful 
of each step she took, she nevertheless went 
courageously forward till she came to a beautiful 
spot, where all the trees were overgrown by 
great festoons of white roses ; and their fallen 
leaves lay like snow on the ground. They 
were so large, that Corona could put her whole 
face within the one she had picked, and they 
were without thorns. She wished, with a 
childish longing, that she could show them to 
her sister ; they had both so loved flowers all 
their lives. All of a sudden a whole cloud of 
sea-blue butterflies, the size of small birds, be- 
gan to fly about amongst the white roses ; and 
the sight was so beautiful, that Corona held her 
breath to watch. They shone as if each one 
were lit by a light of its own ; and their move- 
ments, whilst flitting to and fro, were so grace- 
ful, that they seemed to be performing some 


The Lily of Life 

strangely beautiful dance. At last Corona felt 
quite giddy watching the moving mass of blue 
and white, so she sank down for a moment on 
the petal-covered moss. The perfume of the 
crushed leaves was infinitely delicious, and she 
buried her hands in the fresh, cool mass of 

Innumerable turquoise-coloured lizards with 
bright, gold-rimmed eyes, disturbed by her 
presence, began running about all around her, 
much upset by the unexpected intruder. 
Corona smiled at their evident fright, and 
began to whistle very softly ; then they paused 
in their flight, and came rapidly towards her, 
forming a semi-circle around where she sat, 
and they all seemed to be listening. She felt 
strangely comforted by their sudden confidence, 
but dared not move for fear of frightening them 
away ; so she whistled some sweet little melody 
of her own country. They looked so lovely 
with their turquoise-coloured bodies glimmering 
upon the snowy whiteness of the fallen petals, 
that for a moment Corona forgot all else but 


The Lily of Life 

the beauty of this fairy-like forest. All around 
the roses shed their leaves like soft snow-flakes. 
Suddenly she heard a cracking of branches, and 
sprang up, easily frightened now by every 
sound, and the little lizards dispersed in weird, 
blue patterns ; but what she saw advancing to- 
wards her only made part of the lovely picture : 
a snow-white stag, carrying on his head the 
most prodigious horns imaginable, antlers all 
of gold. He stood, his head held high, in- 
finitely larger than any stags she had ever heard 
of, and with great blue eyes, that somehow re- 
minded her of Mora. He really was superb, 
and looked the proudest thing she had ever 
seen. She longed to ride on him, and wondered 
if he would let her approach. She held out 
the rose she had plucked, and the glorious 
animal advanced with kingly majesty, and came 
quite near ; but instead of nibbling the rose 
she offered he passed his rough tongue over 
her face, and then knelt down before her, as 
if inviting her to mount. Without hesitation 
she sprang on to his back with the help of his 


Jhe UJoocicutters 

The Lily ■ of Life 

wonderful antlers ; his soft, spotlessly white 
skin was like velvet to her touch. The moment 
she was seated the stag rose, and with a swinging 
stride started off, winding in and out of the 
trees, cleverly avoiding the branches which 
threatened to catch his enormous antlers. 
Corona held on by their help, and she felt 
strangely confident in this king of the forest 
who had offered his services to her in so grand 
and simple a manner. They advanced with 
great rapidity, Corona wondering if all were 
well, and if he were taking her where she 
wished to go. Soon the forest became so 
thick, the trees grew so close to each other, 
that they could advance but slowly, and at 
last the noble creature stopped, being unable 
to pass any longer, because of the size of his 

Again he bent his knees so that Corona 
could dismount, which she did with infinite 
regret, and stroked him lovingly, unable to 
make up her mind to part from him. He 
stood like a grand marble statue, his proud head 
N 89 

The Lily of Life 

held high, his antlers standing out to the right 
and left like great rays from the sun. " Beauti- 
ful, beautiful beast," thought Corona. " How I 
wish you could come with me ! Then I should 
no more feel so lonely and afraid ! " For a 
moment he bent his head as if in answer to 
her unspoken thought, and she kissed him on 
his forehead where the golden antlers began 
to grow; his eyes more than ever reminded 
her of Mora's. 

But the magnet was urging her on, so once 
more she took her lonely road, looking back 
from time to time to catch a last glimpse of 
her late companion. He stood immovable, 
gleaming white between the dark tree trunks, 
and she said to herself: " Saint Hubert's stag 
must have stood thus ! " And it almost seemed 
to her as if she saw the cross between his 
horns. But soon he was hidden by the thick- 
ness of the forest, and once more Corona was 
alone, more lonely even than before, because 
of those few hours of companionship. The 
shadows were getting longer, and lay in great 


The Lily of Life 

black lines across her way, and she realized 
with anguish that night and its hidden fears 
were near; and she remembered the kindly 
hut where she had rested the night before. 

But what was that ? A creeping sound, 
something coming towards her — some new 
terror ! Some fresh danger ! Yes, there crouch- 
ing before her she saw a great black leopard, 
magnificent in its uncanny size, like some 
enormous cat in a bad dream. With a feeling 
of faintness Corona leant against a tree, fas- 
cinated by those cold, hungry, gleaming, green 
eyes that stared at her ; fascinated by the 
crouching beast, which seemed ready to spring. 
Suddenly a companion was at its side, and 
then another and another ; from behind each 
tree a great black creature appeared to rise 
out of the ground, watching her with its 
wicked eyes. Now indeed her last hour must 
have come ; and all her efforts had been in 
vain, and Ilario would die, and Mora would 
blind her eyes with weeping. No one would 
know what had become of her, and her mother 


The Lily of Life 

would grow old with grief. And Yno! Yes, 
poor Yno ! Faithful little page, what would 
he feel? The animals crouched as if biding 
their time, glad to make the horrible uncer- 
tainty last. How black they were ! And how 
beautiful their coats ! Everything in this forest 
was so wonderfully beautiful. She pressed 
her hands against her sides, and as she did so 
she seemed to feel a strange heat beneath her 
dress. What was it? She pressed her hand 
harder ; yes, something warm in her pocket ; 
she drew it out — her little lamp ! It was the 
wise woman's lamp, that had suddenly lit of 
itself. It was a tiny, plain little earthenware 
lamp, like those found in old Roman graves. 
Suddenly it shed an extraordinary, strong white 
light, at the sight of which the huge black 
creeping creatures drew back with dull roars 
of discontent. Yes ! They were afraid of the 
white light ! Now she understood why the 
wise woman had given her the lamp. The 
magnet drew her forward, and in the growing 
darkness she advanced slowly, holding her 


The Lily of Life 

little lamp before her ; and as she moved the 
furious leopards retreated, but always keeping 
her in sight. They were so dark, that their 
bodies were hardly discernible in the dusk, 
and looked like shadows creeping beside her. 
But as the night came on Corona was only 
aware of their nearness by the glowing light 
of their eyes ; and their tread was so stealthy, 
that she only heard it when a branch cracked 
beneath them. But now all the forest seemed 
alive with the eyes of wild beasts, shining in 
the dark ; they were on all sides, and some 
came so near, that Corona felt their hot breath 
on her hands, so that they made the flame 
of her little lamp flicker, and she was afraid 
it would be blown out. 

By degrees she seemed to get accustomed to 
this strange company of glowing eyes ; only she 
was becoming terribly weary, and she felt the 
moment was coming when she would have to 
give in and rest ; and she wondered if the 
animals would not try, in spite of her lamp, to 
harm her in some way. There were hundreds 


The Lily of Life 

of them now, and a curious smell of wild 
animals seemed to fill the air, and the snapping 
of dry twigs on the ground became like the 
crackling of a great fire. It was awful, this silent 
company of beasts of prey, kept off only by the 
flickering flame of that small lamp she clutched 
in her hand. Slower and slower became her 
tired steps, till at last she stumbled over a fallen 
tree-trunk, and sank exhausted on the ground. 
In her fall the lamp seemed for a moment to 
go out, and immediately she heard a duU roar 
from hundreds of unseen creatures, and she 
realized more vividly than ever that the lamp 
alone stood between her and certain death. 
But she remained lying where she was, unable 
to go farther ; the little lamp had recovered 
its steady light. She leaned her head against 
a tree-stump, and put her lamp beside her, and 
it shed a small circle of light on the dark 
ground, but not strong enough to show her 
any of her unseen, fearfiil companions. All 
around her was a circle of glowing eyes — row 
upon row of them ; a mufiled sound of breath- 


The Lily of Life 

ing filled the night, and their breath reached 
her from time to time. She felt as if in a 
strange and terrible dream; but a curious 
feeling of unreality helped her to bear the fear 
that rtiade her poor little heart flutter. The 
fatigue was such, that, in spite of the terror of 
her situation, she fell into a deep sleep, her 
head pillowed against the mossy tree-stump, her 
white hands folded in her lap, the tiny lamp 
burning flickeringly at her side. All around 
the great beasts of prey crouched and watched, 
wide awake, and their burning eyes were like 
myriads of fire-flies. Nature was mercifiil, and 
she slept peacefully many hours, forgetting her 
trouble, her fear, and her weariness. 

She awoke only as the first streaks of dawn 
penetrated the cloak of darkness that night had 
laid over all things, good and bad. She woke 
with a start, and the sight she saw as her eyes 
opened was at once fearful and magnificent. 
In great circles, ten deep, innumerable wild 
beasts : black panthers and tigers, spotted 
leopards, and great brown, huge-headed bears, 


The Lily of Life 

and, more awful than all, round the trunks of 
trees were wound huge serpents. Corona sat 
up, and the fearful reality came back to her 
awakened mind. But her little lamp still burnt 
bravely on the ground at her side, shedding but 
little light now that daybreak was at hand. 

Again the magnet^made itself felt, and forced 
her to rise and follow its impulse. So she rose, 
but laid her arm across her face with an 
instinctive movement of self-defence. But as 
she advanced with her lamp in her hand, the 
animals all backed, and although they sur- 
rounded her on all sides, and advanced as she 
moved, none dared to come near enough to 
touch her. The forest was more beautiful than 
ever ; and the flowers seemed even stranger 
and larger than those she had seen the day 
before. The trees, too, had changed, and were 
such as Corona had never seen; and many 
seemed breaking beneath a mass of glorious 
flowers. Corona walked on, always followed 
by the terrible companions that prowled around 
her. Shining through the trees she now saw 


J he k^/ac/ 

The Lily of Life 

a curious opening, where the mossy ground 
changed into a greyish red colour, and as' she 
approached she noticed that her troop of 
followers hung back as if suddenly afraid. But 
she walked on more hurriedly, and came to a 
sort of broad road ; this she soon realized was 
strewn with still glowing ashes, and a disagree- 
able heat beat in her face. It looked like a 
great bare circle between two parts of the 
forest, separating one from the other like 
a sort of barrier, before giving entry to an 
inner enclosure. But how was she to cross 
that broad strip of burning cinders ? She 
put one foot forward, but drew it back 
sharply; the rags that Rollo had wrapped 
round her feet were already scorched and 

Now she understood why her hungry com- 
panions had left her ; they could not cross this 
burning, ring. But how was she to cross it ? 
Even if her courage did not fail her, she 
would burn her feet, and then be unable to 
continue, thus perishing miserably between the 
o 97 

The Lily of Life 

fire and wild beasts, and it seemed only a choice 
between two terrible deaths. She felt sure that 
if she could only cross this glowing ring she 
would be near her goal ; and it meant life to 
the loved one, and happiness for her sister and 
her mother — her sweet, good mother ! All her 
childish need of her mother seemed to sweep 
over her. 

Would she never feel those kind arms round 
her again ? Would she never be able to lay her 
weary head down on that loving breast, to be 
comforted and caressed ? Would she die here all 
alone, wild beasts ready to devour her body ? 
She suddenly realized all the infinite desolation 
of her situation \ she felt how small and young 
and helpless she was ; how much to be pitied 
like a lost child, full of pain and hunger and 
weariness, and yet not a child, because the pain 
in her heart was greater than children's grief. 
She leant against one of the great trees, a tiny 
speck in that vast forest that stretched behind 
her, magnificent, dark, and awfiil, full of terrors 
and beauty, full of life and death ; before her the 


The Lily of Life 

glowing circle that cut her off from that which 
she had come to seek. 

But she would try again — the soul must be 
stronger than the body; and she remembered 
how in olden days maidens were supposed to 
be able to walk unharmed with bare feet over 
burning coals. So once more she approached 
the cruel ring and bravely advanced upon it. 
An intolerable pain shot through all her body, 
the rags round her feet blazed up, and she felt 
that she must perish; that no human strength 
could bear such suffering. She realized nothing 
more, except that all was agony, but that advance 
she must, blindly, as one mad, for whom pain 
was the only existing reality. Suddenly she felt 
a curious sensation, as if her body had become so 
light that her feet no more touched the glowing 
ashes ; and with incredulous eyes she seemed 
to see the ring retreating beneath her, as if she 
were soaring over it instead of walking on it. 
The pain of her scorched feet had been so great, 
that it numbed all other sensations. She was 
dreaming, surely ! This was the beginning of 


The Lily of Life 

death. She had often heard that death was 
merciful ; and such it was, because there was no 
doubt that her feet no more felt the burning 
cinders, and still the feeling that she was far 
above the ground continued. No, she was not 
dying, she was not dreaming. She saw above 
her head a great moving shadow, and to her 
unutterable astonishment, and with a new sen- 
sation of terror, she realized that she was in the 
grip of some great bird. She was indeed far 
above the ground ; beneath her she saw the ring 
of glowing coals, which appeared like an un- 
canny, coloured ribbon. She was nearly as high 
as the great trees. But it was no use to struggle 
— she must resign herself to her fate. She had 
been through so much lately, that she hardly 
had the strength left to be afraid. There are 
certain moments when even fear ceases, because 
the spirit is too tired to let that cruel sensation 
master it. Now there was no doubt that she 
was nearing the ground once more, but softly, 
without jerks, as if the creature that had her 
in its clutches were treating her lovingly. The 


The Lily of Life 

next thing she realized was that she had been 
gently laid down on a soft, thick bed of emerald- 
green moss, sown with a thousand sweet-smelling, 
star-shaped little white flowers ; and when she 
looked up, there, soaring above her head, was 
a great eagle with magnificent wings out- 
stretched, almost immovable, in mid-air. He 
came lower, so that Corona could see his keen, 
quiet eyes, that seemed to look at her with tender 
pity. He hovered around her, circling above 
her head, quite near ; and once he touched the 
ground, and with his soft, dark wings he tenderly 
caressed the poor girl's burnt feet, taking away 
all the pain as if by magic. Then once more 
he rose, quiet and stately, his great, outstretched 
wings throwing black shadows on the moss be- 
neath ; but he circled higher and higher, till the 
blue sky seemed to receive him , and Corona saw 
him no more. Neither did she know that it was 
the same old, old eagle who had travelled so 
much, and seen all things beneath the sun — the 
joy and the pain, the beginnings and the endings. 
How soft the moss was ! How sweet to her 


The Lily of Life 

tired body ! Her feet were now bare, without 
kind RoUo's roughly made shoes, and they were 
scorched and black, but the eagle's wings had 
taken away the pain, and after a little time she 
felt ready to rise ; besides, the magnet that she 
still held was beginning to urge her on. The 
little lamp was lying not very far from her ; 
probably it had fallen from her hand when she 
had been far above ground ; it was overturned, 
and the light had gone out ; but it was unbroken 
because of the thickness of the moss. She picked 
it up, cooled her feet in a small pool near by, 
and then started off once more, with an in- 
stinctive feeling that her goal was near. 

She walked for about an hour, very quickly, 
because the magnet seemed greatly excited. 
And now she came to a high wall, so suddenly 
and unexpectedly, that she was quite startled. 
The wall was enormously high, and seemed to 
have no opening, and was grown over with 
thousands of creeping plants — a beautiful pro- 
fusion of colours : huge violet and white and 
light-blue clematis mixed with unnaturally large 


The Lily of Life 

honeysuckle, that wound itself amongst trailing 
branches of orange and white roses. Farther 
on great mauve bunches of wistaria, each about 
the size of Corona herself, hung down from the 
top of the wall, like waterfalls of sweet-smelling 
colour. There were also flowers Corona did 
not know. She especially admired a wonderful 
orange-coloured kind, like great, soft, feathery 
cushions, that grew thickly on long, bramble- like 
branches without leaves, forming a carpet of 
colour, in which Corona buried her face, drink- 
ing in an exquisitely sweet perfume. And again 
those glorious, gigantic, snow-white roses, like 
those she had seen before, amongst the blue 
butterflies. She lifted one of the great branches, 
and noticed, to her surprise, that the wall 
beneath was of beautiful white marble, carved 
in wonderful, intricate designs — curious, mys- 
terious patterns — the like of which she never 
remembered having seen before. She walked 
along the wall, breathing in all the delicious 
perfumes, often standing still in wonder, ab- 
sorbing into her soul that feast of colour. She 


The Lily of Life 

came to a part where, to her delight, hung 
enormous bunches of purple grapes, one single 
grape of which was the size of a peach. Their 
leaves were red and orange and brown, as if 
painted by some cunning magician who had 
wished to out-do the sunset's glow. Corona 
stretched up her arms and detached a few of 
the grapes, which seemed to concentrate within 
their flavour the deliciousness of all other fruit. 
She moved slowly on, seeking for some sort of 
entrance — some sort of door in this enormous 
barrier, but found none. Was some mysterious 
porch hidden beneath this wonderful growth of 
plants ? Would she miss it ? She felt anxious, 
and began lifting the great creepers in a fruit- 
less search. It was very exhausting work, and 
her arms ached, and again she felt inexpressibly 
lonely and helpless. But now she came to a 
corner, which made her realize that the wall 
was probably built in a square. She pressed on 
her way bravely, and the masses of fallen petals 
beside the wall were cool to her naked feet. 
Often she sank ankle-deep into them, and their 


fjeasts of '^rey 

The Lily of Life 

different colours lay like a never-ending rain- 
bow before her. Suddenly her anxious gaze 
discovered far ahead something white and 
gleaming. She pressed on, new hope filling her 
once more; but the white object was far off, 
and it seemed to her impatience that she hardly 
advanced at all. 

Nevertheless, by degrees it took form, and 
she saw that it was a sort of porch, supported 
by great white columns, the roof of which 
was overgrown with masses of creeping plants. 
Now she began to run in her eagerness. With 
breathless haste she wound her way between the 
plants, stumbling over their roots. And now she 
really reached the porch, the columns of which 
were of pure white marble, beautifully carved 
in the same strange designs she had noticed 
before. And there really was also the very 
thing she had been seeking — a door ! A door 
in heavy bronze, which had turned a soft green 
colour, inlaid with patterns of black and white 
onyx, a wonder of perfect art. It was large 
and low, beneath an arch of carved marble re- 
p 105 

The Lily of Life 

presenting a stiff design of strange birds with 
outstretched wings, always two and two, their 
heads turned towards each other, and the space 
between their wings filled in with beautiful 
designs in gold. Corona went up to the heavy 
door, and pressed both hands against it, but it 
did not yield to her touch ; she looked in vain 
for a handle, a key-hole — none were to be seen. 
What was she to do ? In her despair Corona 
threw herself down on the ground beneath the 
porch, folding her hands in her lap with a sigh of 
infinite discouragement. The marble floor was 
cold, so cold that she felt it through her clothes. 
She looked around her, leaving her tired body 
a moment's rest before concentrating all her 
efforts again to find ways of opening the door. 
As she sat there gazing about her, she was 
attracted by a delicious scent, and saw growing 
not far from her a strange ruby-red flower, 
small and round, and as if made of transparent 
drops of blood. Corona stretched out her 
hand and picked it carefully, because she felt 
that if she jerked it roughly the little leaves 


The Lily of Life 

would fall ofF and roll away like dew-drops. 
Certainly the perfume was exquisite, and when 
she smelt it it seemed as if nothing but the 
happy visions of her life clustered round her, 
and as if she heard sweet music in her ears, 
and as if the pain in the world were less great 
than the joy. Strange that so many sensations 
should be held in the perfume of so small a 
flower. The petals were cool to her touch, 
and really seemed as if they were round drops 
of blood. Again Corona bent her head to 
drink in the fragrance, and she shut her eyes, 
and lost herself for a moment in sweet recollec- 
tions, that brought a faint smile to her sad lips. 
The secret of the little flower was that its per- 
fume was made up out of all the sweet scents 
that had ever crossed her life. Then bravely 
she got up, ready to try her fortune once more, 
and approached the merciless door, holding the 
tiny red flower in her hand. 

As she came near, the door seemed suddenly 
to tremble, and Corona, quite unintentionally, 
touched it with the flower. No sooner had the 


The Lily of Life 

red petals come in contact with it than it flew open 
noiselessly and as if by magic. A vision of infinite 
beauty met Corona's eyes ; a snow-white temple, 
separated from her by a deep moat of dark-green 
water, over which a marble bridge led straight 
from the bronze door. All round the temple, 
growing against its snowy walls, was a line of 
fire-coloured lilies, that stood like great sen- 
tinels guarding some hidden treasure. And 
opposite to the door she had just opened, on 
the other side of the moat, stood another door, 
very much of the same workmanship as the 
first. Corona felt quite weak with emotion at 
being suddenly near the end of her weary quest, 
so that some minutes passed before she was 
able to move ; and she drank in all the beauty 
around her. The temple was of an architecture 
strange to her, richly carved in beautiful de- 
signs. With trembling steps she crossed the 
bridge, gazing into the clear green water, which 
reflected the vision of her own sweet face. She 
hardly recognized it, because of her short hair. 
It seemed to her an almost unknown face 


The Lily of Life 

gazing at her ; the eyes were unnaturally large 
and expressive, like all eyes that have gazed 
upon terrifying sights ; like all eyes that have 
faced in the dark their own tortured souls. 

She reached the opposite door that stood 
grim and stern confronting her ; it was also 
a work of art, inlaid with gold, and on each 
side the fire-coloured lilies, that were as tall 
as herself, stood like dumb guardians of a 
magic world. Again Corona touched the door 
with her sweet-smelling flower, and it, too, flew 
open, revealing a marvellous courtyard sur- 
rounding another building of the same kind 
as the first, also snow-white, only more rich 
than the one she had just entered — more 
dazzlingly white. Here also ran a moat all 
round the square court; and the pavement 
she stood on and the sides of the moat were 
all of black marble; and over all, bursting 
out between the slabs of marble, hanging down 
into the water, tumbling in profusion over the 
narrow bridge, trailing their long branches 
everywhere, were roses, roses — blood-red, redder 


The Lily of Life 

than anything Corona had ever seen; so red 
that their reflection on the black marble seemed 
like little pools of blood; they were so red 
that they looked almost cruel in their extrava- 
gant beauty. Corona noticed, with a thrill of 
fear, that the next door was guarded by two 
great black panthers, like her terrible com- 
panions of the night before, and the door they 
guarded was of some dull-black metal, mar- 
vellously wrought in gold; and over it hung 
great heavy masses of the same crimson roses, 
swinging their great creepers against its dark 
surface, dropping their petals, like drops of 
blood, on the dark fur of the magnificent, 
velvety panthers. The doorstep also was one 
brilliant mass of roses, that grew in wild pro- 
fusion. Corona, remembering her lamp, drew 
it from her pocket, and immediately it lit with 
the strange white light. So, fearlessly she 
approached the growling monsters, in one 
hand her lamp, in the other her precious red 
flower. Corona touched the door, and it, too, 
flew silently open, whilst the black panthers 


The Lily of Life 

crouched down as if afraid. This time she 
stood in a court of exquisite green onyx, so 
smooth and bright and polished, that she seemed 
to be standing on water ; all around her, creep- 
ing over the walls, and trailing their great 
bunches on the ground, were branches of light- 
blue, sweet-smelling wistaria. When she had 
gazed down into the moat, she saw it was full 
of blue water-lilies, whose great stars stood 
wide open, revealing their treasure of golden 
stamens; and they reposed on their great, 
cool, green leaves, that had the same delicate 
tints as the onyx. 

The door on the other side of the 
moat was of beaten silver, encrusted with 
large, curiously entwined circles of moon- 
stones ; and at each side, jealously guarding 
the entrance, stood a kingly tiger in magnificent 
ferocity. The skins of the two splendid beasts 
had orange and golden tints, like autumn 
leaves, and the black stripes looked like thin 
snakes. When they moved, strange lights 
seemed to play upon them, as if the snakes 


The Lily of Life 

were alive. Corona felt as if she were in a 
dream, and all her fear seemed to have gone 
from her, but she was very pale, and her 
beautiful eyes had dark circles of suffering 
beneath them. She held her little lamp before 
her, mounted the step that led to the door, 
and touched it lightly with her magic flower. 
It flew open as the others had done — noiselessly, 
easily, and Corona stood spellbound. This 
court was all of pink marble, so delicate in 
tint, that it reminded one of the glow on the 
cheek of a babe just aroused from its sleep. 
From between the marble slabs grew beautiful 
spreading trees covered with pink and white 
blossom ; and the trees were bound together 
with delicate, pink, creeping roses. Over- 
hanging the moat they tumbled in sweet, 
rambling masses to the calm water, where they 
mingled with the pink water-lilies that grew 
beneath them ; and they seemed like sisters 
greeting each other, each enjoying the other's 

All along the nearer wall stood rows of 




The Lily of Life 

peony plants, breaking beneath the weight 
of their deHcately tinted pink blossoms ; and 
thousands of black butterflies, swarming around 
them, were the only dark touches in the whole 
place. Corona longed to linger ; it seemed a 
place to rest in and be happy — a place made 
by the angels, and where all thoughts must be 
pure. There were soft sounds of falling leaves 
all about, and the dark butterflies circled and 
circled around, casting small shadows upon the 
pink marble flags. But the magnet urged her 
forward, and Corona hurried over the bridge to 
the next door, which was of pink mother-of- 
pearl, apparently made out of a single piece ; 
and a beautiful design of roses and thorns was 
inlaid upon it, in ivory and gold. Guarding it 
stood two big grey bears, with enormous heads 
and small watchful eyes. But Corona was now 
quite fearless, and holding her lamp so that its 
white light protected her she touched this door 
also, which flew open. It was the fourth court 
she now entered, and its aspect was that of an 
exquisitely beautiful graveyard. It was all 

Q- 113 

The Lily of Life 

of white marble, which had taken the delicate 
tints of wax and old ivory. Among the marble 
flags tall, dark, black-green cypresses grew like 
great fingers pointing towards the sky ; and 
between them were a great number of curious 
grave-stones, like altars ; they were of various sizes 
and heights, but all had the same long, rectan- 
gular shape. Upon each stood a great white 
jade bowl, in which burnt some mysterious in- 
cense that exhaled a delicious odour, mounting 
in transparent, blue clouds of smoke towards the 
sky. Round each grave white roses clustered 
and climbed, covering most of the strange in- 
scriptions that were carved on the top of the 
slabs. All around smoked the beautiful bowls, 
sending their little, faintly coloured columns of 
smoke soaring upwards, so that each monument 
looked like an altar dedicated to some unknown 
god. Corona felt an indescribable sadness pass 
Over her soul, and she longed to press her living 
lips upon each grave of these unknown dead as 
she passed, so that they should receive the offer- 
ing of her pity. 


The Lily of Life 

" But," then, she sadly said to herself, " perhaps 
they are happier than I ! " And she stretched 
her arms towards Heaven with a gesture of mute 
prayer. Everything there seemed to be mount- 
ing towards that blue sky of promise : the dark 
cypresses, the blue smoke in the precious bowls, 
Corona's outstretched arms, and the mute cry of 
supplication that came from her soul. But she 
dared not tarry ; she only moved for a moment 
amongst the tombs, caressing them with hands 
that touched them tenderly, as if instinctively 
remembering that each contained a heart that 
had once beat with human love ; and in re- 
membrance also of the tears that had no doubt 
been shed upon each. 

Then she crossed the bridge over the moat, 
and came to a door of pure white ivory encrusted 
with golden birds, like those she had noticed 
on the arch when she entered. There, stern 
guardians of the entry, majestic and immovable, 
sat two snow-white lions, still and grand, with 
such calm faces, that Corona felt a great wish to 
caress them, as if they were dogs. Instead she 


The Lily of Life 

touched the beautiful door, which also obeyed 
the small ruby-red flower, and opened- wide to 
reveal the fifth court. For a moment Corona 
dared not enter, so dazzled was she. The walls, 
the floor, the sides of the moat were all ot 
glorious beaten gold ; and the flowers that grew 
there were violet and mauve and purple. There 
were rows of violet asters in bushes taller than 
Corona; then long lines of exquisite irises, all 
growing straight, and proud of their own mar- 
vellous colouring, each keeping jealously away 
from the other, so that its beautiful shape should 
stand out undisturbed by its neighbour. Over 
the walls hung clematis in dark, velvety richness, 
trailing its creepers in glorious masses into the 
water, where the leaves floated like small boats, 
reminding Corona with a pang of longing of the 
colour of the sail of her own boat, on which 
was woven the s golden, cross-shaped sword, 
the emblem of her proud family. But now a 
trembling seized her, because she knew that the 
next door led to the Lily of Life. The next 
door meant the end of her quest; meant the 


The Lily of Life 

fulfilment of her wish ; meant the last struggle ; 
meant either success or defeat, life or death. 
Behind that last door was all her hope and all 
her fear. Behind that closed door the mystery 
would be revealed ! All her strength seemed 
to leave her, and for a while she stood, too weak 
to move, her heart beating like a great, cruel 
hammer within her. She tried to walk, but her 
knees gave way beneath her, and she sank down 
on the bridge, her head pressed against the arch 
over it ; and the dark purple clematis seemed to 
nestle round her head, pitying and loving her, 
touching her softly with its beautiful petals, 
sending out delicate tendrils to caress her white 
neck, which the short hair no longer protected. 
The magnet had fallen from her hands, useless 
now that she was before that door, and lay like 
a dead piece of metal at her feet ; but the sun 
touched it for a moment, drawing small sparks of 
light from it, which shone like diamonds. The 
little lamp had gone out, its work also done. 
Before that last door, which was of gold, worked 
like a great sun, all the rays converging towards 


The Lily of Life 

the centre, where a great, many-hued opal seemed 
to guard some hidden fire, stood two spotless 
angels, their white robes falling in straight folds 
to the ground, two great wings spread high 
over their heads, and two others hiding their 
feet. When Corona lifted her head, she met 
eyes full of infinite pity and love. Fascinated 
by their quiet majesty, she rose to her feet, and 
slowly, hesitatingly, she advanced towards them, 
her gaze riveted upon their shining figures, 
her great, sad eyes asking all the questions that 
her tongue might not form into words. Be- 
tween her fingers she still held the little, red, 
sweet-smelling flower, which she felt was useless 
now. As she neared the door, the two angels 
gently touched it with their hands in the 
centre, where the opal seemed to hide its fire, 
and as their ivory-white hands were laid upon 
it it opened. 

Slowly, slowly it gave way — Corona's heart 
beat, beat — and she stood at last within the 
inner court. Here all seemed bathed in a 
strange moonlight, a sort of blue glare came 


The Lily of Life 

from the middle of a dark, square pool; but 
each time Corona tried to look at the centre 
of the pool an intolerable pain shot through 
her eyes and brain, so that she turned her back 
upon it to be able first to realize her surround- 
ings. How strange it was ! She seemed to 
have left all the sunshine outside, and here it 
was suddenly night ; certainly not a dark night, 
but a night lit up by the blue-white light of 
the moon. The enclosure she had entered was 
like some exquisite cloister. Snow-white arches, 
supported upon marble columns, ran all the 
way round, and each column and each arch 
was carved with a diiFerent design. It had the 
appearance of a curious temple, yet the shape 
was like that of the cloisters of a monastery, 
and the whole was flagged with marble, as 
white and shining as a freshly fallen sheet of 
snow. All the columns, in their straight rows, 
gleamed like immovable ghosts in the pale light. 
An oppressive stillness hung over all, and the 
whole place seemed filled with a strangely 
sweet perfume, so strong that it made Corona's 


The Lily of Life 

brain reel. At the foot of each column, and 
as immovable, stood a spotless, white peacock 
with a great, fan-like tail, spread out in all its 

Once more Corona turned towards the dark, 
square pool, the water of which was on a level 
with the marble pavement. But this time she 
held up the yellow glass to her eyes, and then 
she gazed — gazed. 

In the middle of the black water, growing in 
stately solitude, was a lily — a lily from which an 
intensely brilliant light seemed to pour. A lily 
so dazzling, so perfect, so supernaturally pure, 
that the only sensation that possessed the soul at 
the sight was the desire to sink on one's knees 
and adore it. It was larger than any lily Corona 
had ever seen, but of the same shape and kind as 
those she had in her own garden at home. Yet 
before this one her heart seemed to feel an ex- 
traordinary peace, an extraordinary longing for 
better things, a wonderful happiness that spread 
through body and soul, giving her the sensation 
that she was a spirit from a better world, with 


jhe uombs 

The Lily of Life 

no desire but to let her heart melt in infinite 
gladness in a song of praise. She knelt down 
at the water's edge, hid her face in her hands, 
and cried, cried tears that seemed to wash away 
all the evil in human nature, all the suffering 
and pain, all the struggles, all the partings and 
disappointments. And all her own grief seemed 
to melt away, relieving her overburdened 
heart of its suffering. And as her tears touched 
the marble floor, they turned into pure pearls — 
pearls like those the wise woman wore round 
her neck; they rolled one by one into the black 
water, each forming little circles of light on the 
dark surface ; and the circles spread, widened, 
rippling away in silver, dwarf-like waves. 

But soon she dried her tears, for she knew 
that to get to the flower she must descend 
into those dark depths, and once more the 
horror of death seemed to cross her soul. 
There was no magnet to urge her on — it lay 
heavy and quiet in her pocket ; her will alone 
could now sustain her. So she quietly unfastened 
her cloak and laid it down on the marble floor, 

R 121 

The Lily of Life 

and stood in her golden under-dress, all torn 
and stained and soiled by her terrible wander- 
ings. Then, shutting her eyes, so as not to be 
blinded by the Lily, she sprang bravely into the 
pool, and sank deep in the water. 

It was an awful moment, full of silent horror, 
worse than anything she had felt since the 
beginning of her journey, and at each moment 
she expected to sink, a pale corpse, to the bottom 
of that deep, watery grave. But just as she was 
giving up all hope she felt one foot touch a step, 
and with an effort she moved forward to the next 
step, so that her head kept above water ; and — 
yes ! — now she could advance ; she had her feet 
on a stair leading to the centre. With her eyes 
tightly shut she moved forward, blindly keeping 
her direction by the exquisite perfume of the 
flower. Step by step she advanced. Step by 
step — slowly, slowly. Now the glare that came 
from the flower was so awful that it burned 
through the girl's eye-lids, seeming to pierce her 
head in two places, as if with sharp daggers. But 
she was near now ! She reached out her arm, 


The Lily of Life 

and her fingers, seeking their way in the water, 
found — oh, marvellous moment of attainment ! — 
the stem of the Lily of Life. It yielded beneath 
her touch, snapping in two as if made of 
glass. . . . 

What happened then Corona never knew. 
All the air seemed full of strange and beautiful 
music, and a radiant light seemed to spread over 
all things. Corona knew not if she were sinking 
or rising, her body had no weight; the water 
was no longer cold. All around there seemed 
to be white wings and sweet voices like the voice 
of her little brown bird, but a whole chorus of 
them, as if the heavens were open. The next 
thing Corona realized was that she was lying 
couched upon the wings of great, snow-white 
swans ; and that in her hand she held the Lily 
of Life, which now her eyes could look upon. 
Before her in the midst of the pool stood, straight 
and gleaming, another lily, which had sprung 
up in the place of the one she had plucked, 
ready for the next wanderer who had the courage 
to seek it ; ready for the next weary heart that 


The Lily of Life 

should come, sustained by his beHef in its power 
to comfort. 

Sunlight now shone radiantly golden around, 
so that the marble columns and arches, the 
slabs on the ground, the water in the pool, 
were lit up with a bright, yellow light, trans- 
forming the ghostly temple into a place of 
wondrous sweetness. Corona lay still on her 
bed of white wings and gazed on all the beauty. 
Her eyes could face the new lily now that her 
hands clasped the one she had come to seek. 
She lifted it to her face, and when it touched 
her infinite gladness seemed to fill her soul, 
and her wondering eyes discovered that her 
soiled dress had changed into a robe of spotless 
whiteness, so soft and pure and bright, as if 
woven out of the rays of the moon. And 
more wonderful still, her beautiful golden hair 
had grown again, thick and full of sunshine, 
as in the happy days of her childhood, and it 
rippled over her, as if in a luxuriant cloak of 
pure, shining metal. And all the time the 
air seemed full of marvellous music and voices, 


The Lily of Life 

mingling in a song of praise, but ethereal and 
almost unreal. Now she was being lifted up 
by the swans, fearlessly lying on their great 
wings, and borne away over the beautiful 
temple. And as they flew she looked down 
upon all the courts that she had passed, and 
each stood out clearly in its different colour, 
but they appeared quite small, like miniature 
playthings. And now it was the great forest 
she was being carried across — a great stretch 
of dark green, hiding all its beauties and all 
its fears. And now, suddenly, she saw far 
beneath her the wood-cutter's tiny hut, and 
a great wish came to her to stay a moment 
and, her tongue being once more loosened, 
to offer her thanks to the two kind men who 
had given her their rough hospitality. She 
begged the swans to set her down a moment 
beside the lowly dwelling. They obediently 
did as she desired, and once more Corona stood 
before the low door and knocked, and once 
more it was opened by Rollo, who started back 
as if in fear. Corona stretched out her hand. 


The Lily of Life 

"It is I," she said, " the weary guest thou 
didst tend so kindly. Let me enter ; I would 
thank thee and thy kind father. I stood be- 
neath a spell, having made a vow of silence, 
and like a thief I had to steal from your hut, 
in the dark, whilst you slept. But now my 
quest is over, and I return to my father's 
palace." And she told them her name. But 
they were so overcome by her radiance, as she 
stood there in her snowy robe and her wealth 
of golden hair, the Lily in her hand, that, 
believing her one of God's angels, they fell on 
their knees before her and kissed the hem of 
her dress. Then the swans bore her away 
far up into the blue sky, so that the two men 
had to shade their eyes to follow the dizzy 
flight. Father and son stood long, gazing 
at the spot where she had disappeared ; then 
the old man turned to RoUo and said : 

" God has loved us, my son, because he 
allowed one of his pure angels to enter our 

And then they both silently took their axes 


The Lily of Life 

and went about their work, still awed and 

On flew the swans over the dreadful, frozen 
sea ; over that land of cold and ice ; over the 
wood where Corona had rested ; over the 
desolate, burning plain where she had walked, 
stumbling against the rolling stones. At last 
the sea came in sight; and on the forsaken- 
looking shore stood Yno ! — Yno, who in his 
despair had not moved all this time from the 
spot where his loved mistress had disappeared, 
meaning to die there if she had gone for ever. 
And now he heard the sound of wings, and 
like a small, white cloud slowly approaching 
the great, wild swans came in sight, bearing 
something between them upon a dark- blue 
cloak. Gently they descended, always nearer 
and nearer to where he stood, and when he 
saw what it was that they were carrying it 
seemed to him as if his heart would break with 
a joy too great to bear. At last the swans tenderly 
laid down the dark-blue cloak, and there stood 
Corona, his mistress, his sweet mistress ! but with 


The Lily of Life 

something about her which awed him to silence. 
Her face seemed radiant with light from another 
world, and the long white dress seemed too pure 
to touch, and her great, brown eyes shone out 
of her pale face with a sadness that he hardly 
dared meet; and in her hand she held a lily 
that seemed made of light. But her sweet 
smile was the same, and she came towards him 
with the voice he had always known : 

" Yno, dear Yno ! Thou hast waited for me, 
and, see, I have come back, and I bring with me 
that which will give life to one dear to me, 
and happiness to another also inexpressibly dear 
to me. God has been merciful and led me 
through many dangers and many fears, so that 
I have reached what I was seeking; and the 
terror I have gone through, and all the pain I 
have borne, and all the silence and solitude, lie 
behind me as in a dream ; and this white robe 
that came to me I know not how seems a sign 
of God's mercy. Yno, dear, faithful heart ! 
Now thou must follow me on my last journey 
towards those that await me. I see the wise 


Jhe zneturn 

The Lily of Life 

woman's boat is there ready to take us home. 
Come, let us enter it." 

Yno clung to her knees, now no longer 
afraid of her spirit-like appearance ; and all 
his joy, and all his past anxiety and terror 
for her, he expressed in wild, almost incoherent 
words, as he pressed his face to the folds of 
her white robe. And gently, gently, she 
caressed his bent head, murmuring sweet words 
of consolation, whilst her gaze wandered across 
the stretch of ink-blue sea, with a look of 
yearning and apprehension, which cast a 
shadow upon her radiance. Then, turning 
to the wild swans, she thanked them for their 
help, kissing each one upon its snowy head, 
and they stretched their long necks up to her 
as if they would have liked to speak. Now 
the boat bore the beautiful maiden away over 
the calm sea, and the wild swans rose in the 
air, the rays of the sun gilding their out- 
stretched wings, till they were but tiny specks 
lost in the sky. Corona held Yno's hand 
between hers, and related to him all she had 


The Lily of Life 

seen and done — all her fears and fatigues j 
but especially all the beauty her eyes had 
beheld, touching but lightly upon all her 

And the little waves kissed the sides 
of the boat as it glided forward with great 
speed, as if anxious to bring the beautiful 
girl back to her home. Corona's eyes were 
fixed upon the horizon with an eager, anxious 
look, but Yno could not keep his gaze from 
her face, which seemed strangely changed, 
with suffering written upon it, although none 
of its beautiful youth was gone. But she 
seemed to him less human than when she had 
left him, as if the soul were consuming the 
body. Her white hands, in which his brown 
one lay, also seemed to tell a tale of suffering, 
and from time to time he reverently pressed 
his lips upon them. And still the boat moved 
onwards, bringing them nearer to their destination. 

After many hours, about sunset, when the sky 
was taking beautiful, rosy tints, they saw 
rising before them, shining in golden beauty, 


The Lily of Life 

the King's castle. Corona uttered a little 
cry of joy; it seemed to her as if she had been 
gone for years, and yet not many days had 
passed since she rushed blindly down those 
golden steps — that sad, sad night when she 
tore herself away from all she loved, to begin 
her pilgrimage of love and silence. 

The boat was nearing the shore; the green 
marble terraces were distinctly visible; Jacob's 
ladder shone in the last rays of the sun, be- 
tween its line of dark cypresses. Now the 
boat touched the sand, and Yno lifted Corona 
out. A thousand conflicting feelings had taken 
possession of her — -joy and hope and happiness — 
and she pressed her hand upon her heart to 
control its furious beating. Was she in time ? 
Was Ilario still alive ? Had he perhaps recovered ? 
And had all her sacrifice been useless ? And 
the only words that came from her lips were, 
" Mother, mother ! " It was the great cry of 
all her nature, of all her anxious soul ; it con- 
tained all her hopes and all her fears. And then, 
holding the Lily of Life in her hand, she began 


The Lily of Life 

running up the golden steps — up, up, as if she 
had wings. She rushed up the green terraces, 
and once more, from the bottom of her longing 
soul, she cried, " Mother ! " The window of 
the Queen's room burst openj that cry had 
pierced the walls ; that cry was the echo of the 
mother's anxious heart. And a few minutes 
later Corona lay in those dear arms she had so 
longed for. She lay there like a quite small 
child, and it seemed to her as if never again 
could any harm come to her. 

" Mother, does he live ? " was her anxious 
question, as she raised her tear-stained face. 

" Yes, my child ; but each day he becomes 
weaker. Now he lies quite still as one already 
dead, with his eyes closed, and does not even 
seem to hear Mora's voice ; and Mora is wast- 
ing away because of her double grief — Ilario's 
illness and thy absence. My sweet Corona. 
My child, my child, God be praised that thou 
hast come back ! " 

And the Queen raised the beautiful face with 
both her hands, and gazed long into it, and she, 


The Lily of Life 

too, realized the change Yno had seen, and a 
feeling of awe and fear gripped her soul. This 
beauty seemed of another world ; this beauty was 
almost unbearably pure to the mother's heart. 
And then Corona told her mother that she had 
brought the Lily of Life, and begged to be taken 
to the sick man's room. As they mounted the 
stairs. Corona clutched her mother's hand, but 
said not a word, nor did her mother press her 
with questions ; and as they neared the room her 
steps seemed to hesitate, and her mother looked 
anxiously into her pale face. But her answer 
was a sweet smile, and she laid her hand upon 
the door-handle, and then turning said : 
" Mother, I pray thee let me go in alone." 
And the Queen did as she wished, and silently 
descended the stairs. The news of Corona's 
return had already aroused a feverish excitement 
and joy all over the castle. 

As Corona entered the sick room. Mora rose 
to her feet with a cry of joy, and fell sobbing 
into her sister's arms. But on the bed lay 
Ilario, like a beautiful marble figure, his 


The Lily of Life 

splendid features rigid and pale, his long, slim 
body wasted away, his hands inert and still, 
his copper-brown locks spread over the white 
pillow, like dark sea-weed, and his long lashes 
made great dark lines beneath his eyes. Oh, 
how beautifiil he was ! How beautiful, beauti- 
ful ! Corona felt all her great love mount like 
a wave within her, overcoming every other feel- 
ing. She felt as if she must fall down and kiss 
that marble face; that she must lay her head 
upon that still heart ; and then for one horrible 
moment she thought he was already dead. 

" No, no," whispered Mora, clinging to her 
and understanding her thought ; " he still lives, 
but the flame of life within him flickers, as if at 
any moment the smallest breath would blow 
it outi Corona, Corona, hast thou, then, found 
that which will bring him back to me ? " 

And as she pronounced that word " me " 
Corona felt a dagger pierce her heart. Now 
she bent down over the still form, and gently, 
with the Lily of Life, touched his brow, his 
eyes, his lips, his heart, his hands, and hardly 


The Lily of Life 

had she done so when a marvellous change 
came over the prostrate figure, the face took 
its usual colour, the rigid limbs relaxed, and 
suddenly he sat up, and then sprang to his 
feet, standing tall and slender and vigorous 
once more in his crimson gown. And with 
a cry of joy, " Mora ! " he had thrown his arms 
round his bride, and her head was upon his 
breast, and his warm, living kisses covered her 
hair, her face, her lips. . . . 

Corona stood by the window, and the last 
rays of the sun threw a halo round her head, 
but her eyes had a far-off look, and were turned 
towards the sea, and the petals of the Lily of 
Life fell one by one to the ground, and lay like 
flakes of snow at her feet. 

Soon the whole castle was in a great uproar 
of delight, and all the rooms, so silent since 
Ilario's illness, rang once more with gay voices, 
and laughter was heard echoing along the 
passages and halls. Servants ran backwards and 
forwards, and pompous courtiers fussed about, 
asking useless questions and giving useless orders. 

The Lily of Life 

Great trumpets were sounded from"] the 
towers, proclaiming Ilario's recovery and an- 
nouncing the marriage for the next day. The 
King was happy, for they had had sad times, 
and he cared for the sound of laughter, and 
although his heart was good and kind he did 
not like the silence that grief brings in its 
train. He sat in the great hall, giving orders 
for the ceremony of the next day, and his eyes 
feasting on the sight of his two beautiful 
daughters, and he felt rich and blessed. But 
the Queen, who saw deeper, with a woman's 
understanding and a woman's instinct, moved 
about as one afraid of entering the sanctuary 
of grief. Corona behaved as though she had 
never been away; as if no sacrifice had been 
asked of her. And when she was pressed 
with questions relating to her wanderings, she 
spoke of the beautiful flowers she had seen; 
of the white stag that had carried her on his 
back ; of the little brown bird whose voice was 
like the song of angels; of the wood-cutters' 
kindness; and the soft moss that had been 


'jhe yiecooery 

The Lily of Life 

restful to her feet. But the pain she had borne, 
and the fear and the anguish, she kept hidden 
in her heart, so that no shadow should fall on 
this day of rejoicing. 

And that night, after the dancing was over, 
she went to their own room with Mora, and 
long the two sisters sat together and recalled 
all their love for each other, and Mora wept 
at the thought of the parting so near at hand. 
But Corona spoke of the joy awaiting her in 
her new country, and in words that came with 
difficulty reminded her sister of Ilario's love. 
And that night she herself tucked Mora into 
the little golden bed in which she was sleeping 
for the last time, and long she sat beside it, 
till Mora fell asleep, and then Corona bent 
down to kiss the tears that were wet on her 
sister's cheeks. And all the time it seemed 
to her as if some cruel hand were in her breast, 
pressing her heart in an iron grip, till she could 
hardly breathe. Very softly she now went 
to her mother's room, and found her kneeling 
beside her bed; a small, shaded lamp lit up 
T 137 

The Lily of Life 

the beautiful chamber with a mysterious Hght. 
Long the two women gazed into each other's 
eyes, and they stood at the open window 
together, looking at the stars in the sky, and 
both knew that words were impossible, and that 
silence alone could express what they had to say 
to each other. At last, softly, the mother said : 

" My child, thou must go to rest. To-morrow 
thou needest all thy strength." And she 
kissed her with all her love, and gently made 
the sign of the cross upon her brow. 

The next day awoke with a glorious sunrise, 
and the whole sky was red and orange ; tiny 
grey clouds flitted across the face of the sun, 
the sea blazed, and the flowers sent up their 
sweetest perfume and spread out their most 
brilliant colours. 

In the room where all their youth had been 
spent together Corona decked her sister with 
her own hands, and the radiant Mora stood in 
the sunlight, her beautiful white dress flowing 
around her, and upon her shoulders Corona 
fixed a silver mantle worked with pearls, and 


The Lily of Life 

upon her head she placed a soft, white veil, 
that covered the jet-black hair, and a crown 
of diamonds, that sparkled with a thousand 
lights, and flashed so that one could hardly 
look at it. And then the handmaidens put 
a white robe on Corona also, but on the breast 
of hers was embroidered in gold an eagle, 
that held between its claws a bleeding heart 
— the design she had formerly worked herself 
in the days that were no more. Upon her 
head they laid a crown of lilies, but no veil 
covered the golden mantle of hair, that hung 
down far below her waist. 

The door opened, and Ilario came to claim 
his bride — Ilario as they had seen him the 
first day, clad in his golden armour; the sun 
flashed upon the metal, and he looked like 
St. George come down to earth once more. 
Corona shut her eyes, as if the brightness were 
too much for her to bear. But Ilario came 
towards her, and, as at the meeting in the 
forest, bared his head and bent his knee before 
her, and thanked her for the life she had re- 


The Lily of Life 

stored to him. And again Corona smiled, and 
answered : 

" May my blessing go with what I love 
most dearly in all the world." But Yno, who 
stood in the doorway, felt as if he would cry 
aloud in pain. 

In a beautiful pageant of many colours the 
wedding procession wound itself towards the 
church. The Princesses rode on their fa- 
vourite steeds, and when Jorio saw his mistress 
once more he neighed with joy, and she patted 
his glistening neck, and for the first time tears 
gathered in her eyes. 

When all was over, they came back to the 
castle, and a great banquet was given in the 
stone hall, where the old flags hung from the 
ceiling j and Ilario had his bride on his right, and 
on his left sat Corona, but she did not touch the 
food set before her. Sweet music filled the room, 
and on the table a carpet of dark-red roses almost 
hid the golden cloth. Corona's hand played 
amongst them, and when the dark petals fell be- 
tween her white fingers they seemed to her like 


The Lily of Life 

drops of blood coming from her own heart, and 
she remembered also how they had lain in bril- 
liant spots upon the black panthers which giiarded 
one of the doors of the temple, and a great long- 
ing came to her to hear the little brown bird's 
voice, that had always seemed to ease her pain. 
Behind her chair stood Yno, and sadly he 
changed the golden plates upon which her food 
remained untouched. But each time that the 
Queen, who was sitting opposite, searched her 
gaze, it was to receive a sweet, brave smile in 
response. Only when the preparations were 
being made for the ball, which was to end that 
day of rejoicings, did Corona slip out of the 
castle and go to Jorio's stable, and there, her 
face hidden in his golden mane, the colour of 
her own hair, she gave vent at last to her tears. 
Animals need no words of explanation ; that was 
why Corona had sought refuge with her horse. 
Long she remained there, her arms round the 
horse's neck, her face buried close against his 
warm body ; and the smell of his skin reminded 
her of all the days of her happiness. 


The Lily of Life 

The ball was magnificent. Every one came 
from far and wide, and brilliant colours filled 
the room, and the music seemed untiring, like 
the feet of those who danced. And the bride 
stood beside the golden-clad knight, and received 
a hundred congratulations ; but all the time she 
would have Corona's hand in hers. Then came 
the moment when the newly married couple 
were to be led down to the seashore, where 
a boat awaited them, ready to bear them over 
the sea to the country which was now to be 
Mora's home. Between the tall cypresses that 
bordered the golden staircase flamed torches, 
and the steps were strewn with sweet-smelling 
lavender and jasmine, and garlands of roses were 
hung from tree to tree. And music played, and 
beautiful voices sang from out of the dark, ming- 
ling with the sound of the distant sea. The two 
sisters walked down hand in hand ; Ilario had 
gone before to receive his bride on the boat ; and 
Mora begged her sister to come soon to visit 
them in her new home. With each step it 
seemed to Corona that she was bidding farewell 


The Lily of Life 

to part of her life. On the seashore stood the 
King and Queen and all the court. The beau- 
tiful boat was draped with sumptuous hangings, 
and flowers had been strewn everywhere. At 
the helm of the boat was the figure of an angel 
with wings stretched backwards, and in the 
angel's hands was a cross of light, that was 
reflected in broken lines upon the dark sea. 
From the boat also sounded sweet music ; 
and a soft wind raised the silken draperies, and 
made the colours shine where the light of the 
lanterns fell upon them. 

For the last time the sisters stood side by 
side on that shore, which had known them 
as laughing children. Ilario came forward and 
took leave of the King and Queen and 
their courtiers, who then slowly mounted the 
golden steps, so as to wave a last farewell to 
the boat from the brilliantly lit terrace above. 
Only Corona still stood holding her sister's 
hand ; but she knew that all was over, that 
nothing could help her now that she must 
part from all that life meant to her. Ilario 


The Lily of Life 

came to her, and a sudden anguish of com- 
prehension crossed his face, but he met her 
brave eyes, and then he bent his head and 
pressed his parting kiss upon her lips. As he 
did so, it seemed to Corona as if her heart 
were beating its last, and yet it was the 
sweetest moment of her life. . . . 

The boat moved from the shore, its lights 
and brilliant colours were reflected in the dark 
water, and seagulls flew all around it, their 
white wings flashing when they came into the 
circle of light. 

Corona stood alone, that kiss burning on her 
lips. The boat had been swallowed up into 
the darkness of the night, the wind played 
amongst her hair, and the sea-birds' voices 
seemed the last strains of music reaching her 
from the boat which carried away her happi- 
ness. She heard not her mother calling to 
her from above — calling, calling, with a voice 
full of love and fear. On receiving no answer, 
the Queen, being a woman, and knowing 
that certain griefs are best borne alone, sadly 




The Lily of Life 

followed the King into the castle, where now 
all was still, and where the smell of faded 
flowers alone filled the air. 

The night was dark, and Yno groped his 
way down the golden stairs, where the torches 
had burnt out and the garlands of roses were 
letting their petals fall softly one by one. He 
reached the seashore, and there — oh, God ! — ^lay 
the sweet form of his mistress, and the first 
rays of the rising moon shone upon her face. 
It was deathly white, but her pale lips were 
parted as if with a smile of happiness, and both 
her beautiful hands were clasped upon her 
heart — her broken heart. 

In the morning a great search was made for 
Corona. Two bodies were found on the silver 
sand — Yno with his faithful head upon the small 
feet he had followed so often ; and upon the 
breast of the beautiful maiden sat a tiny brown 
bird, and sang, sang — with a voice that told the 
mother's breaking heart that her daughter had 
found treasures beyond their reach. . . . 

On a lonely shore far off stood the wise 

u 145 

The Lily of Life 

woman, her black veil hanging like a dark shadow 
behind her tall form, and as the sun rose in the 
sky she seemed to see a wonderful column of 
snow-white wings mounting towards Heaven ; 
and through the air, down towards where she 
stood like a lonely figure of grief, came music 
so sweet, so exquisitely perfect, that it was like a 
hymn of hope to her frozen heart ; like a great 
song of forgiveness sent from above. And the 
air all around seemed to echo the one word, 
" Corona, Corona," and the sea caught it up : 
" Corona, Corona," and the wind answered, 
" Corona." And the seagulls, seeing the great 
column of white wings, flew upwards, trying to 
reach it, but in vain, because it was at the 
doors of Heaven. 

Then the wise woman returned slowly to her 
boat, to await the day when her soul also would 
be borne upwards, washed of its sin — redeemed 
by the help she had brought unto others. . . . 

Printed by HazeU, Watson & Vinty, Ld., London and Aylesbury.